Space Orbiter to provide close sun image

Solar Orbiter (Credit: European Space Agency)

The European Space Orbiter reached its closest approach to the sun Saturday, providing researchers with unprecedented detail. 

According to the European Space Agency, the spacecraft passed at about one-third of the sun-Earth distance, or 30 million miles, around 7:50 a.m. ET. 

The space mission is a project of the European Space Agency in conjunction with NASA. The spacecraft launched from Florida in February 2020.

It is on a 7-year mission to understand the sun and give scientists more insight as to how the sun affects the space environment throughout the solar system. 

The $1.5 billion spacecraft joing NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched 1 1/2 years ago, which also came perilously close to the sun to unveil its secret

 Solar Orbiter was made in Europe, along with nine science instruments. NASA provided the 10th instrument and arranged the late-night launch from Cape Canaveral.

This is an international collaboration 10-plus years in the making, NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn previously said on NASA’s website. 

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