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where is SOHO?

 

Unlike most other satellites, SOHO does not orbit the Earth. SOHO orbits the Sun, but at a distance of only 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. This special position is called the first Lagrangian point (L1 for short). At this location the forces controlling the spacecraft’s orbit keep it more or less in a straight line between the Sun and Earth. In this way we never lose sight of it from Earth.

 

It took about three months for SOHO to reach the L1 point. From this special viewpoint, SOHO is able to observe the Sun all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, and to send back its data to Earth - SOHO never sleeps!

Here’s a simulation of SOHO’s journey to the L1 point.

You can see more movies in our Gallery   [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]


 

     

Here is an animation of SOHO's orbit, but it's not to scale. Remember that SOHO's distance from Earth is only 1/100th of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

You can see more movies in our Gallery [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]
 

SOHO really is "hands on science"'.

 

     
     

Here's an animation of SOHO's solar wings (panels of solar cells) unfolding.

You can see more movies in our Gallery   [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]

Even though SOHO is 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, it can be operated in ``real-time''. Instructions (computer code and data) are sent up to SOHO from a large radio antenna on Earth.

 

When SOHO takes an image it can be seen on a computer screen just a few seconds later.

 
 

 

   
 
 

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