A new way to view the Sun
Scientists have recently found a ground-breaking method to view seldom-seen areas of the Sun’s atmosphere, thanks to a clever hack on the Solar Orbiter probe’s camera. By adapting the Solar Orbiter’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), they have successfully managed to block the overpowering light from the Sun, enabling them to highlight the subtle light of its atmosphere instead.
This exciting breakthrough in solar observation required a modification to the EUI, involving the addition of a unique feature known as a “thumb” to a safety door. When the door is partially opened, the thumb acts as a shield, effectively blocking the intense sunlight from the Sun’s central disc. This revolutionary technique allows the weaker ultraviolet light from the corona to become visible, which is typically overshadowed by the Sun’s brightness and can only be observed during total solar eclipses.
The extraordinary ultraviolet image of the Sun’s corona obtained through this innovative method provides scientists with invaluable insights into a region of the Sun’s atmosphere that has remained mostly unexplored. As the corona is an outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, studying it allows researchers to better understand the dynamics and behavior of the Sun itself.
This newfound ability to observe the corona in detail holds immense significance for both solar researchers and space enthusiasts alike. The ability to view and study this region outside the constraints of a rare total solar eclipse expands our knowledge and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of our nearest star.
The Solar Orbiter probe, a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, was launched in February 2020 with the primary goal of studying our Sun. Equipped with ten scientific instruments, including the modified EUI camera, the Solar Orbiter is on a mission to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Sun’s atmosphere, magnetic fields, and solar winds.
The successful adaptation of the Solar Orbiter’s EUI camera showcases the ingenuity of scientists and their determination to unlock the mysteries of our celestial neighbor. It also serves as a reminder of the immense potential that lies within space exploration, as we continue to push boundaries and expand our understanding of the universe.
With this groundbreaking achievement, scientists are optimistic about the future discoveries that may lie ahead, and the potential impact they can have on our understanding of the Sun’s behavior and its influence on Earth. The innovative thumb modification to the Solar Orbiter’s probe camera has opened an exciting new chapter in solar observation, allowing us to see the Sun in ways we never thought possible.