INSTITUTE OF COSMOS SCIENCES

University of Barcelona

SOLAR ORBITER

Organization: ESA, with strong NASA participation
Launch date: October 2018
Mission length: 7 years (nominal)
Location: Eccentric orbit (moving as close to the Sun as 0.21 AU)
Instrumentation: Solar wind analyzer (SWA), Energetic particle detector (EPD), Magnetometer (MAG), Radio and plasma waves (RPW)
Website: http://sci.esa.int/solarorbiter
OVERVIEW

The Sun is a medium mass star of the main sequence, a long and stage of its evolution. However, it experiences periodic short-term unpredictable bursts of activity known as solar activity. Space weather refers to the response of the space environment to this changing Sun. Solar activity can trigger sporadic bursts of energetic particles that cause damage to satellites and are a hazard for spacecraft systems, and a constraint on our ambitions for human activities in space. Primary radiation sources of this environment are solar energetic particles (SEPs), mainly protons and electrons, with energies up to a few GeV. They are difficult to predict due to uncertainties over the basic physical processes, and the need to access reliable data in real time. [+]

ICCUB Contribution

ICCUB’s lines of research in heliospheric physics and space weather are mainly focused on the study of SEP events triggered by solar activity and interplanetary disturbances, i.e. energetic protons (~150 keV to 0.5 GeV) and near relativistic electrons (~20 keV up to 0.5 MeV). Solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which are the main agents of SEP-acceleration, together with proxies of solar activity (radio emission, H-alpha and X-ray emission, etc.), and the solar wind plasma and the interplanetary magnetic field, are topics of research at ICCUB, because they are the background components of the SEP scenario. [+]