Solar Polar Orbiter

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The solar polar orbit is a mission concept to observe the sun's poles. The spacecraft spirals in towards the sun to about half Earth's distance (0.48 AU), then inclines the orbit until it passes over both poles. From this vantage point, a spacecraft can image the polar regions of the sun, and monitor the solar wind from these regions, to better understand how the sun works. This is a very energy intensive mission, which solar sails would be well suited for, because of the abundant sunlight. The Ulysses mission, which ends June 30, 2009, was the only prior mission to observe the sun's poles. [1, 2, 3, 4]


  1. Dachwald, B and Ohndorf, A and Wie, B. Solar sail trajectory optimization for the Solar Polar Imager (SPI) mission. AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit, Keystone, Colorado, Aug. 21-24, 2006 , 2006. BibTeX [Dachwaldetal2006]
  2. Wie, B and Thomas, S and Paluszek, M and Murphy, D. Propellantless AOCS Design for a 160-m, 450-kg Sailcraft of the Solar Polar Imager Mission. 41st AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, Tucson, Arizona, July 10-13, 2005 , 2005. BibTeX [Wieetal2005]
  3. Liewer, Paulett. Solar Polar Imager: Observing Solar Activity from a New Perspective. , 2004. BibTeX [Liewer2004]
Reference library: BibTeX

See Also