- Scheduled to launch in 2018
- Mission: To scrutinise the Sun in unprecedented detail
- Builds on Ulysses and SOHO programmes
- Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for Solar Orbiter
Set for launch in 2018, Solar Orbiter builds on the successful joint European Space Agency (ESA) / NASA missions Ulysses and SOHO.
The orbiter, which is currently being designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space-led team, will scrutinise the Sun in unprecedented detail. Travelling closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury, it will make comprehensive measurements of the nascent solar wind. Its mission is to explore how the Sun creates the heliosphere, the bubble-like region of space dominated by the solar wind.