Solar Orbiter blasts off to capture 1st look at sun’s poles

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This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Solar Orbiter satellite in front of the Sun. On Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, NASA and the European Space Agency have planned to launch the spacecraft on a mission to the sun to get close-up views of its polar regions. (ESA/ATG medialab, NASA/SDO/P. Testa (CfA) via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Europe and NASA’s Solar Orbiter has rocketed away on an unprecedented mission to capture the first pictures of the sun’s poles.

The $1.5 billion spacecraft will join NASA’s Parker Solar Probe in coming perilously close to the sun to unveil its secrets. An Atlas 5 rocket blasted off late Sunday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and NASA declared success once the solar wings unfolded around 90 minutes later.

Nearly 1,000 scientists and engineers from across Europe gathered under a full moon to watch Solar Orbiter depart. The spacecraft will fly past Venus to maneuver into a unique out-of-plane orbit that will take it over both poles.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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