in Space

Solar Orbiter loaded with SPICE

Posted 11 February 2020 · Add Comment

A state-of-the-art science instrument that was developed and built by a team of 80 people, led by Harwell-based scientists - the Spectral Investigation of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) - is on-board the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral.

Above: Solar Orbiter launches from Cape Canaveral.
Courtesy of NASA / ESA

The Spectral Investigation of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) instrument was led from RAL Space, the UK’s national space laboratory located at Harwell Campus. SPICE will help trace solar wind structures measured at the spacecraft, to their sources at the poles inside dark, slightly cooler areas of the Sun known as coronal holes.

Dr Andrzej Fludra, the RAL Space scientist who led the international consortium for the SPICE instrument was at Cape Canaveral to witness the launch: “It was amazing to see Solar Orbiter launch, it feels like the crowning of the effort of our large team. The next exciting moment will be taking the first spectra of the Sun, and initial observations to check the instrument.” ​

Now at the start of a two-year journey towards the Sun this instrument, alongside nine others, will observe our nearest star close-up and study its polar regions for the first time, giving scientists on earth unprecedented insight into how our parent star works. Investigating the Sun-Earth connection the data gathered will help us to better understand and predict periods of stormy space weather.

Commenting on why this mission and the insights to be gained are important, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said, “Solar storms could cause major disruptions to technologies including our energy grid, mobile phone signal and navigation systems.”

The 10 state-of-the-art instruments on-board the Solar Orbiter include remote sensing payloads that will perform high-resolution imaging of the Sun’s atmosphere – the corona – as well as the solar disc. Other instruments will measure the solar wind and the solar magnetic fields in the vicinity of the orbiter. Three of these 10 science instruments have been developed by scientists from University College London, Imperial College London and STFC’s RAL Space, who led international teams on their design and build.

Collaboration is at the heart of this European Space Agency (ESA) mission. SPICE alone took five years to develop by a team of 80 people from across Europe and the US. The UK Space Agency invested £20 million in the development and build of the instruments and Airbus Defence and Space were the prime contractor for the satellite.


* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Latest News

BA targets reducing single-use plastic on flights

British Airways today announced a new target to remove more than 700 tonnes of single-use plastic on board its flights in 2020, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion individual items of plastic and equivalent to more than 30,000

Dstl offers veterans a second career

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is leading a new venture to offer second careers to military veterans.

UK cyber entrepreneurs meet world's experts in Silicon Valley

An exciting mix of innovative start-ups are flying the flag for the UK at a prestigious conference on cyber security in California’s Silicon Valley.

British-made Royal Navy helicopters displayed onboard HMS Prince of Wales

Visitors to the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, which will dock in Liverpool to welcome members of the public from 29th February to 1st March, will be able to see advanced military helicopters built in Yeovil, Somerset, alongside

A&D manufacturers exploring Industry 4.0 to drive digital transformation

IFS has released research which shows a large proportion of aerospace and defence (A&D) manufacturing decision-makers are actively considering integrating Industry 4.0 technologies to spearhead their digital transformation

Dyer & Butler appoints Richard Walker as COO

Dyer & Butler has announced the appointment of Richard Walker as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

ODU 0201311219
See us at
FIL20BT010819260720S&P BT241019040320VIDSE BT1605060320DVD 2020SMI favws BT0602040620AMAS BT0312270220