By the Associated Press
Europe and NASA’s Solar Orbiter rocketed into space Sunday night on an unprecedented mission to capture the first pictures of the sun’s elusive poles.
The $1.5 billion spacecraft will join NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched 1 1/2 years ago, in coming perilously close to the sun in order to unveil its secrets.
While Solar Orbiter won’t venture close enough to penetrate the sun’s corona, or crown-like outer atmosphere, like Parker, it will maneuver into a unique out-of-plane orbit that will take it over both poles, never photographed before. Together with powerful ground observatories, the sun-staring space duo will be like an orchestra, according to Gunther Hasinger, the European Space Agency’s science director.
“Every instrument plays a different tune, but together they play the symphony of the sun,” Hasinger said.
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