On December 14, 2021, Astronomy & Astrophysics (A&A) published a special issue dedicated to the first results of the ESA space mission Solar Orbiter. Solar Orbiter was launched in February 2020, and has recently completed its cruise phase, approaching the Sun as close as about 0.5 astronomical units (half the Sun-Earth distance). It is equipped with 6 remote sensing and imaging instruments and 4 in-situ particles and fields probes, aiming at addressing several open questions on the way the Sun and the heliosphere work.
The A&A special issue includes 56 scientific articles that use measurements from all instruments onboard the spacecraft, spanning from the observation and modeling of solar picoflares in the lower corona, to the turbulent properties of the solar wind. ISTP researchers have co-authored 8 of the articles. In these works, they addressed, for example, the interplay between turbulence and electromagnetic waves in the solar wind plasma, the structure of the Venusian magnetosphere, the expansion of a coronal mass ejection, and the microscopic properties of proton velocity distributions.
Solar Orbiter is now in its science phase, with all its instruments working, and will reach 0.28 au in about one year. The synergy of remote and in-situ instrumentation will provide the scientists with an unprecedented set of measurements to directly approach the effects of the solar activity on the interplanetary space.
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