Solar Orbiter, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) flagship mission to study the Sun

Solar Orbiter

Studying the Sun from a unique distance 

  • Launched in 2020
  • Mission: to scrutinise the Sun in unprecedented detail
  • Builds on the Ulysses and SOHO programmes
  • Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for Solar Orbiter

Solar Orbiter’s mission is to explore how the Sun creates the heliosphere – the bubble-like region of space dominated by the solar wind. Designed and built by an Airbus Defence and Space-led team, the spacecraft will scrutinise the Sun in unprecedented detail.  

It will make comprehensive measurements of the nascent solar wind while travelling closer to this star than the planet Mercury.  

Launched in February 2020, Solar Orbiter is a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), with strong participation from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Solar Orbiter builds on two other successful joint ESA/NASA missions: Ulysses and SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory). 

Solar Orbiter


Podcast #SolarOrbiter

The Airbus-built Solar Orbiter (SolO) is on an epic journey to unlock the Sun’s secrets.

For inside information on this explorer spacecraft’s unprecedented mission, listen to the latest Airbus podcast – which includes insights from Ian Walters, the Solar Orbiter Project Manager. Podcast topics include SoIO’s testing prior to launch in February 2020 and protecting the deep space probe from temperatures exceeding 500°C when it reaches the Sun’s vicinity.

Latest Solar Orbiter News

Solar Orbiter commissioned in orbit despite Covid-19


Solar Orbiter is ready for its close-up with the Sun

Solar Orbiter reaches for our star


Airbus built Solar Orbiter heads for the Sun in Florida

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Solar Orbiter on track to launch before next total solar eclipse

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