Feeds

Europe to launch bold Sun swoop mission

And dark energy space 'scope will probe universe's growth

The next step in data security

The European Space Agency hopes to blast into space a probe that will get closer to the Sun than any other craft has managed.

solar_orbiter_esa

Artist's impression of Solar Orbiter. Photo by European Space Agency

The ESA said on Tuesday it aims to launch the Solar Orbiter from Cape Canaveral on a NASA-provided Atlas rocket in 2017 in the first of two space missions in its Cosmic Vision plan. The space boffins say the probe, which will pass within a mere 26 million miles of the star, will help them "make major breakthroughs in our understanding of how the Sun influences its environment".

The agency is particularly interested in gathering more information about solar winds and solar flares. Its canned statement reads:

Solar Orbiter will be close enough to the Sun to sample this solar wind shortly after it has been ejected from the solar surface, while at the same time observing in great detail the process accelerating the wind on the Sun's surface.

The second mission, selected by ESA's Science Programme Committee, is the space telescope Euclid, which is designed to study the effects of "dark energy". Dark energy, the mysterious hypothetical force propelling the universe's expansion, has already been in the news this week, with its discoverers winning this year's Nobel Prize for Physics.

The agency hopes that using Euclid to map out the universe "with unprecedented accuracy" will reveal the history of its expansion and growth, and thereby help astronomers to "understand the exact nature of dark energy".

The Euclid is set to launch on a Soyuz rocket in 2019 from Europe's spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.

"With the selection of Solar Orbiter and Euclid, the Science Programme has once more shown its relevance to pure science and to the concerns of citizens: Euclid will shed light on the nature of one of the most fundamental forces of the universe, while Solar Orbiter will help scientists to understand processes, such as coronal mass ejections, that affect Earth's citizens by disrupting, for example, radio communication and power transmission," Alvaro Giménez, ESA's director of science and robotic exploration, said in the statement. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.