Solar Orbiter safely passed through the space debris zone

This content was published on 29 November 2021 – 14:11

Science Newsroom, Nov 29 (EFE) .- The Solar Orbiter probe completed its approach to Earth this weekend before continuing its path towards the Sun. A maneuver that entailed risks because the ship had to cross two regions populated by space debris .

Finally, the flyby was uneventful and the Solar Orbiter, whose mission is to study our star, is again active and producing data.

The flyby through debris clouds was completed successfully this weekend, a tweet from the mission states, and anticipates that the data obtained during its passage over Earth has been “excellent”, but it has yet to be finished processing.

The European Space Agency had reported last week that the flyby would be “the most risky so far for a scientific mission.” The closest moment to the planet occurred last Saturday, when it was located just 460 kilometers above North Africa and the Canary Islands.

On the path of its approach to Earth, the probe passed through two orbital regions that are populated by space debris. The first is the geostationary ring of satellites at 36,000 kilometers and the second is the collection of low Earth orbits at about 400 kilometers.

The flyby maneuver of the Earth was essential to decrease the energy of the probe and align it for its next step close to the Sun.

Thus begins the main scientific mission of Solar Orbiter, which was launched in February 2020 and since last July was in the cruise phase.

The return to the vicinity of the Earth offered the probe an opportunity to study its magnetic field, which is the interface of our atmosphere with the solar wind, a constant stream of particles emitted by the Sun. EFE

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