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Solar Orbiter has set out to discover the mysteries of the Sun and takes Portuguese technology on board

Solar Orbiter, ESA's probe that will have the mission of capturing the first images of the Sun's poles, has already left for space. The satellite carrying technology from the Portuguese Critical Software, Active Space Technologies and Deimos Engenharia on board was successfully launched from the base of Cape Canaveral, in the United States, following a ride from NASA's Atlas V rocket.

Critical Software has developed several software systems for Solar Orbiter, including central command and control, fault detection and recovery programs and thermal behavior management. Active Space Technologies produced titanium components for the support arm and orientation of the probe's communication antenna with the Earth and for the channels for the passage of light that pass through the thermal shield of the device.

Deimos Engenharia, which also helped develop the scientific component of Cheops, ESA's satellite that intends to measure planets outside the solar system, worked on defining and implementing the strategy to test the equipment's flight systems.

ESA's probe is prepared to face temperatures of 500 C and carries 10 scientific instruments that will help it determine the intensity of radiation and particles launched by the Sun, observing events that may influence or affect what is happening on our planet.

The route that the Solar Orbiter probe follows returns from the Sun. credits: ESA

According to ESA, Solar Orbiter will be the first European probe to enter Mercury's orbit, being 42 million kilometers from the Sun at its closest approach. The combination of scientific instruments that it brings on board will allow to collect more information about the activity and solar cycles.

Solar Orbiter will work together with NASA's Parker probe, in orbit since August 2018. The equipment has already gathered a considerable amount of data about dust rings, magnetic fields and solar winds and some of the information collected was in the the basis of four scientific studies published in the journal Nature.