[Satellite TODAY 07-21-11] Thales Alenia Space has won Phase B contracts from Italian space agency ASI to support two parts of the Solar Orbiter satellite mission under the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision program, the satellite manufacturer announced July 20.
Acting as prime contractor, Thales will produce and deliver the entire Multi-Element Telescope for ESA’s Imaging and Spectroscopy (METIS) instrument and the Data Processing Unit (DPU) on its Solar Wind Analyzer (SWA).
The Solar Orbiter satellite’s mission is to observe the Sun and its environment at a distance of 0.28 Astronomical Units — or 28 percent of the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun.
The METIS telescope, supported by an Italian-led international scientific consortium, aims to provide simultaneous imaging of the full corona in polarized visible light and in the ultraviolet light produced by the ionized hydrogen. ESA scientists will use this data to study the origin and the mechanisms of solar heating and acceleration of the solar wind.
“Through this latest contract, Thales Alenia Space consolidates its role on this major Sun exploration mission. The flight instruments for the Solar Orbiter are scheduled for delivery in early 2015,” Thales said in a company statement.
Financial details of the contract were not disclosed.