We really live on the cusp of a wonderful new era of space exploration, with SpaceX missiles Purrs nearly every month and International investigations Scattered all over the Milky Way to take great pictures of AsteroidsComets, planets, moons and our bright sun.
With all the activity and media coverage of these spacecraft and sensors, it is easy to feel complacent or indifferent about the data and images their missions send to Earth. So let’s pause for a moment and look at the sky in these dazzling new images from the NASA / ESA orbiting solar module as it transits our solar system to study our star.
The new video below, compiled with a series of photos, shows incredibly rare cosmic paintings of Earth, Mars and Venus, with the faint light of Uranus winking at us too from the outside.
These inspiring images were acquired on November 18, 2020 by a SoloHI camera installed onboard the Solar Orbiter. Venus (left), Earth (center), and Mars (right) are clearly visible in the foreground, with a tapestry of bright stars in the background, all captured as the spacecraft orbits the sun. Eagle-eyed astronomers also noticed that Uranus was sharing a phase near its lower edge.
“The Solar Orbiter is the most complex scientific laboratory ever built to study the sun and the solar wind, taking pictures of our star from a distance closer than any spacecraft before,” ESA Researchers Indicated. “The Solar Orbital Solar Imager (SoloHI) is one of the six remote sensing instruments on board the mission. During the cruise phase, these instruments are still being calibrated during specified periods, but otherwise turned off.”
Venus, Earth and Mars shift slightly in SoloHI’s field of view. Venus is the brightest object that can be seen, as it hovers around 30 million miles from the solar orbit. When the images were taken that day, the distance to Earth was 156 million miles and 206 million miles to Mars. Farther from Uranus is just a dot next to the official time symbol.
“At the moment of registration, the Solar Orbiter was on its way to Venus in its first gravitational-assisted flight, which took place on December 27.” ESA Scientists explained. “A flight of Venus and Earth will bring the spacecraft closer to the sun and tilt its orbit in order to observe our star from different perspectives.”