Prague, July 19 (CTK) – Czech researchers and firms helped develop and make four of ten state-of-the-art instruments for the Solar Orbiter satellite whose mission to explore the Sun is to be launched within a European Space Agency (ESA) programme in 2019, representatives of the Czech Academy of Sciences said today.

The first instrument is a solar coronagraph called METIS (Multi-Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy). Its two main mirrors were made in the TOPTEC centre, which is part of the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. METIS is to examine the solar wind and the eruptive processes in the solar corona and provide unique data.

The second instrument is a special telescope for imaging X-ray sources and the third one is a system to measure particles in the solar wind.

The fourth experiment is to observe radio and plasma waves and it is to provide the other equipment with electric power supplies from solar panels.

Researchers handed the four devices to the ESA at the end of June. Their production cost six million euros and most of the sum was covered from the PRODEX programme.

It is expected that Solar Orbiter is to operate about three years close to the Sun, even closer than Mercury, the innermost planet.

“It will depend on many circumstances, it may operate even ten years,” Astronomy Institute head Vladimir Karas said.

His colleague Petr Heinzel said the instruments and the whole satellite must be built in such a way to be able to function in conditions of high radiation and temperature fluctuation.

Heinzel was the coordinator of the Space for Humankind programme of the Academy of Sciences, within which the research and development of the instruments for the satellite took place.

kva/dr/rtj