ESA ends Solar observation mission


The European Space Agency (ESA) has concluded its nine-year-old Sun observation mission, Solar, which has been attached to the orbiting International Space Station (ISS).

The mission comes to an end with ESA switching off the ground control arrangements of the Solar mission in Belgium, and moving the mission to a parked position in the ISS.

During its mission, Solar measured most of the radiation emitted by the Earth’s closest star across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Solar’s observations have also improved the understanding of the Sun, and have enabled scientists to create accurate computer models and predict its behaviour.

“Climate studies heavily rely on these data to understand the world we live in and how we are shaping it.”

In order to predict the Sun’s behaviour, scientists have also created complex computer models to build a virtual star.

Modelling and predicting the Sun’s activity can further help understand mankind’s effect on Earth’s climate.

ESA project leader Astrid Orr said: “After all these years of gaining valuable information about our Sun it is an emotional moment for the team, but Solar has far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“This kind of research does not deliver pretty pictures, but numbers.

“Climate studies heavily rely on these data to understand the world we live in and how we are shaping it.”

In addition, information collected during the final moments of Solar mission has been used by the researchers to develop a software that will improve calibration of parts of the data provided by the mission.  


Image: Solar facility on the ISS Columbus module. Photo: courtesy of ESA.