Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
EU Space Science

EU Sending a Probe To the Sun 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the hot-science dept.
First time accepted submitter Mindflux0 writes "The European Union is going forward with the proposed Solar Orbiter, a space probe designed to study the sun. The probe will orbit closer to the sun than any other man-made object at a sizzling 42 million km. It's planned to launch in 2017 for close to a billion euros."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Sending a Probe To the Sun

Comments Filter:
  • PLEASE, PLEASE tell me this is a fully manned spaceprobe, manned by politicians and world leaders, to help them become better aquainted with science!

  • (42 million kilometers) / the speed of light = 2.33494867 minutes

    That's just around 4 times closer to the sun than the Earth is, although I guess the radiation intensity probably increases with the square of the distance or something like that?

    At least they should be able to power it with solar panels...

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @05:35PM (#37618030) Homepage

      At least they should be able to power it with solar panels...

      Actually, powering a probe close to the sun with solar panels is a significant difficulty, since photovoltaic cells perform poorly when they get hot; high temperatures also degrade the lifetime. The European mission will be taking a lot of steps to decrease the intensity on the solar arrays. It's a much worse problem with Solar Probe Plus, which is going much closer. For SPP, designing a power system that works at distances close to the sun was the key enabling element in the mission design. We will be using concentrator solar cells, operating them off-angle, and, for the part of the orbit closest to the sun, actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

      • by m50d (797211)

        actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

        Isn't that, well, kind of obvious? How else would one cool anything in space? I'm rather surprised this hasn't been needed for solar cells already.

        • actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

          Isn't that, well, kind of obvious? How else would one cool anything in space? I'm rather surprised this hasn't been needed for solar cells already.

          For most applications, the small gain in efficiency from running the cells cooler is not worth the large loss in terms of cost and complexity of pumped cooling loops. For near sun applications, though, it is worth it

      • I was just thinking to myself that placing the solar panels in a compartment out of direct line-of-sight and then reflecting light to it should atleast help a little. After all, heat radiates from the sun in direct lines and so does all the various particles it emits, so if the panel is out of that line it won't heat up as much. Atleast that's my understanding.

      • by pacinpm (631330)

        Since sunlight is such a problem can't you just send it at night?

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Around 72% of the way to the sun to be more precise.
      So it's not like it'll be skimming the surface. But as the radiation decreases with the square of the distance, it should get around 12.7 times as much sunlight as if it was orbiting out here.

      42 million km is just inside Mercury's perihelion of 46 million km, by the way.

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      (42 million kilometers) / the speed of light = 2.33494867 minutes

      That's just around 4 times closer to the sun than the Earth is...

      Math. Do you Speak it? There is no such thing as 4 times closer.

      It is 1/4th the distance from the sun compared to the earth.

      • by osu-neko (2604)

        Math. Do you Speak it? There is no such thing as 4 times closer.

        English. Do you speak it? If you're not a native speaker, then it's understandable that you're not familiar with some of the intricacies and oddities of the language, but for fluent speakers of English, there's no trouble parsing phrases such as "twice as short" (means the same as "half as tall"), or "four times closer" ("a quarter the distance"), etc. Just invert the number when you reverse the directional (e.g. from "closer" to "further", "shorter" to "taller", etc).

        • Not wishing to add to this fire here, but I think the parent has a valid point.
          4x closer, would have me assume the distance x4, is the distance of our planet, relative to the sun... in so many words.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        It is 1/4th the distance from the sun compared to the earth.

        You don't say or write "1/4th" in English. It's 1/4 or one quarter.

  • by rpjs (126615) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @05:24PM (#37617892)

    The European Space Agency is quite different than the European Union. It includes Canada for a start...

  • They finally found a place to send all that Greek debt.
  • They are going to make sure to do this at night, right? It would be too hot for the probe during the day, right?

    • Theyll go at night.
    • depends on whether poland is in charge.

      • by Billlagr (931034)
        Will they fit it with windows and flyscreens, so they can open them to keep cool?
        • [woosh] Venting atmo would cool the craft, due to pressure drop. It does, however, generate a problem if you need to cool any electronics after that, since vacuum doesn't conduct the heat.
          I wouldn't advise it either if you have some humans on board. They can stand vacuum for about 30 seconds but after that the damage quickly becomes severe and I assume the voyage is a bit longer (since the light needs a couple of minutes).
          [/woosh]
  • But it won't be a record for long, since the Solar Probe Plus will be heading to a distance of 8.5 solar radii from the surface of the sun a year later. http://science.nasa.gov/missions/solar-probe/ [nasa.gov]

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @05:29PM (#37617956) Journal

    First the News of the World, and now this.

    • First the News of the World, and now this.

      Gosh, I didn't think they had it in them to shoot Rupert Murdoch into the sun.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        First the News of the World, and now this.

        Gosh, I didn't think they had it in them to shoot Rupert Murdoch into the sun.

        That was the original plan, then we switched vendors and had to fire him into the Dell.

  • Interesting way to burn a billion euros. Someone correct me if im wrong, but isn't Europe almost as broke as the US? Why did they pick now to go study the Sun?
    • by guruevi (827432)

      You could also phrase it as follows: Interesting way to invest in your local economy. Trust me, the research alone will get people (certain academics) to move there.

    • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @06:29PM (#37618646) Homepage

      You do realize it that when you spend money it is not incinerated right?

      If the EU spends 1 billion or 100 billion they do not have 1 billion less, it is just redistributed differently.

    • by PPH (736903)
      What better way to cook the books.
    • by quasius (1075773)
      We are in a funding crunch! Quick! Stop science!!! Seriously stopping things that will actually advance your society because times are rough seems like a great way to keep things from improving.
      • Even in Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) science was top. Granted, it was used in the wrong sort of way, but with knowledge comes responsibility.

      • by Bardwick (696376)
        The problem is when you run out of other peoples money. To over simplify, do you want a space probe or half the country (USA) not get thier government assitance checks? I think science and education should be staggeringly funded, but most people are missing a very basic concept. We're broke. Eating our seed stock...
  • I guess they can't see it from here.

  • Sounds like a Disaster Area waiting to happen.

  • They're sending it at night to avoid heat issues.

  • when the sun is turned off.

  • See here [theonion.com]
  • At that distance, what would the estimated temp be in space?
    More for my own curiosity, but the tech needed to survive a constant furnace/radiation bomb is also very cool.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Not an astro-thermophysicist, but I'd guess that the vacuum of space in that area would be near absolute zero. Now the suns radiation hitting mass would probably generate a large amount of heat.

  • Maybe we'll find David Brin's creatures wandering about.
  • 42 million kilometers...

    42... something's afoot...

White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.

Working...