The Solar Orbiter space probe, launched in the United States in February, has switched on its 10 scientific instruments on board and taken its first pictures of the sun.

The Solar Orbiter space probe, launched in the United States in February, has switched on its 10 scientific instruments on board and taken its first pictures of the sun.

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to present the first images on Thursday at 2.00 p.m. (1200 GMT) during an online conference.

According to the ESA’s scientists, the pictures taken halfway between the Earth and the sun, 77 million kilometres away, are already exceeding expectations.

Never before have shots of the sun been taken from this short a distance.


The orbiter – controlled by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in the German city of Darmstadt – developed by the ESA and the U.S. space agency NASA is expected to reach just 42 million kilometres from the sun.

The mission, which is estimated to cost almost 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 million), is intended to provide new insights into our home star.

The instruments are also intended to take a look at previously less known regions of the sun, such as the poles.

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