Here comes the probe

What secrets does the Sun hold? On Sunday, a probe bound for the Sun was launched to find out.

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas rocket, which lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The probe is a flagship venture of the European Space Agency, with the participation of its United States counterpart, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The satellite is set to settle into orbit relatively close to the Sun, at nearly one quarter the Earth's distance from its star.

Scientists say the craft is expected to provide unprecedented insights into the Sun's atmosphere, winds and magnetic fields. It will also garner the first images of the Sun's uncharted polar regions.

The €1.5 billion (S$2.3 billion) mission of up to nine years will be controlled from the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2020, with the headline 'Here comes the probe'. Subscribe