'Solar Orbiter' Delivers Closest Pictures Ever Taken of the Sun

'Solar Orbiter' Delivers Closest Pictures Ever Taken of the Sun

“A European and NASA spacecraft has snapped the closest pictures ever taken of the sun,” reports the Associated Press, “revealing countless little ‘campfires” flaring everywhere.

Scientists on Thursday released the first images taken by Solar Orbiter, launched from Cape Canaveral in February. The orbiter was about 48 million miles from the sun — about halfway between Earth and the sun — when it took the stunning high-resolution pictures last month…
European Space Agency project scientist Daniel Muller described the observed multitude of “campfires” shooting into the corona, or sun’s crown-like outer atmosphere, as quite possibly “the tiny cousins of the solar flares that we already know.” Millions if not billions of times smaller, these tiny flares may be heating the corona, he said, long known to be hundreds of times hotter than the actual solar surface for unknown reasons… These so-called campfires, Berghmans noted, are “literally everywhere we look.” Not yet well understood, they could be mini explosions, or nanoflares. More measurements are planned.

The $1.5 billion spacecraft will tilt its orbit as the mission goes on, providing unprecedented views of the sun’s poles. This vantage point will allow it to capture the first pictures of the solar poles.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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