EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY – My 2020 Moments: The sun runner
Launched on February 10, 2020, Solar Orbiter is a sun-observing satellite developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) with the mission to orbit the giant red star for the next 10 years, capturing images of the colossal fireball from closer than any spacecraft before and for the first time gazing at its uncharted polar regions. Christopher Owen is a physics professor at University College London and the principal investigator on the ESA Solar Orbiter Mission Solar Wind Analyser (SWA) Investigation. Cesar Garcia is the Solar Orbiter project manager at the European Space Agency. When Garcia and his colleagues started testing instruments on the orbiter at the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Europe. Some of their colleagues from the operational center in Darmstadt, Germany tested positive, and they had to shut down all operations for 10 days. To keep to the schedule, Owen and his team developed some modes of communication. For them, seeing the launch of the solar orbiter with the roar of the rocket was the most inspiring moment in 2020.