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Solar Orbiter – satellite with a telescope built by the astronomers from Wrocław

In February, the Atlas V rocket will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Within the framework of currently the most important solar mission of the European Space Agency, the rocket will carry the Solar Orbiter (SO) satellite into orbit. Scientists from the Astronomical Institute of the University of Wrocław were engaged in building one of the telescopes present on board of the SO.

For the time being, the final launching date is set to February 9, 2020, although it might change. If everything goes according to plan, the satellite carried by Atlas V will get as close to the Sun as 40 million km (closer than Mercury). It will be, thus, not as near as Parker Solar Probe (PSP), but the SO will be observing the Sun with the help of telescopes, which PSP is incapable of due to too high temperature, says dr Tomasz Mrozek from the Astronomical Institute of the University of Wrocław.

One of the telescopes present on board is Spectrometer Telescope for Imaging X-rays (STIX), built to a large degree by scientists from the Space Research Centre at the Polish Academy of Science (PAN), including Tomasz Mrozek. Apart from him, the Astronomical Institute of UWr is represented by prof. Michał Tomczak, who belongs to the, co called, ‘Science Team’).

Artist's impression of the fairing encapsulating Solar Orbiter being released following launch on an Atlas V 411
Fot. ESA/ATG medialab
  • So far, there have been no such ambitious missions that were dedicated to observing the Sun, Mrozek says.
  • The Polish contribution in building the STIX, as well as our role in the consortium is very big in comparison with other satellite experiments, the Wrocławian astronomer adds.

To honour this exceptional scientific success, the staff of the Astronomical Institute prepared a series of lectures accompanying the launch. On February 5 in the Institute’s building (ul. Kopernika 11, Mergentaler hall, start at 18:00), there will be an opportunity to learn basic facts about the Solar Orbiter and learn more about the involvement of the Polish scientists in the STIX mission. In the meeting, apart from Tomasz Mrozek, there will also take part prof. Janusz Sylwester and prof. Arkadiusz Barlicki.

Published by: Dariusz Tomaszczyk

5 Feb 2020

last modification: 8 Apr 2020