The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter is on a mission to study the Sun, but to get there it will have to make a series of flybys of other planets including Earth, according to a digitaltrend technical report.
This week, the Orbiter will perform its most dangerous flyby, diving through the scattered space debris that surrounds the Earth before heading away towards the sun, and the Solar Orbiter will reach its closest point to Earth next Saturday, November 27 at 6:30 am. And when you are 286 miles from the surface of the planet over North Africa and the Canary Islands, this is just above the orbit of the International Space Station, which indicates how close we are to the spacecraft, and it will have to pass through two rings of space debris in both geostationary and orbital orbits. low ground.
A close pass is necessary to slow the spacecraft down enough that it can line up for a pass close to the sun, where it will monitor phenomena such as the recently discovered “camp fires” seen on the surface of the sun. The star. Although flying the Earth is risky due to the possibility of hitting a piece of space debris, it also provides an opportunity to do some additional science.
The Solar Orbiter will study Earth’s magnetic field and the way it interacts with the solar wind, the stream of particles emitted by the Sun. Orbiter will take a look at this phenomenon and see how its data compares to that collected by other spacecraft such as the European Space Agency’s Cluster and Swarm missions.
And since the Solar Orbiter is making its perilous flybys from Earth, it may even be possible to detect it from Earth, and the European Space Agency advises, “In the moments before the closest approach, sky watchers in the Canary Islands and North Africa can catch a glimpse of the spacecraft that was accelerating in the sky, and it will travel at about 0.3 degrees per second, which is just over the moon’s apparent radius every second.
For most observers, it would be too faint to be seen with the naked eye, and too fast for telescopes to track, so binoculars should provide the best chance of catching a glimpse.
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