The Belgian-developed telescopes of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument aboard Solar Orbiter opened their doors on 12 May to photograph the Sun, the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB) announced on Tuesday.
The telescopes were developed by the Liège Space Centre and the ROB. The teams of scientists and operators are forced to work and communicate remotely.
“This ‘First Light’ is a milestone,” said the ROB, “but also a critical step where many things can go wrong. The EUI can observe part of the sunlight that is blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere. Only telescopes in space can make images in this sort of light. EUV shows us the outer part of the solar atmosphere,” the Observatory said.
“But observing in the EUV is not that simple. EUV interacts with contaminants on and in the telescopes, leading to images of less quality,” they added.
The telescope and satellite were therefore built in a sterile room. “When the doors of the EUI telescopes open, it will be checked if the dirt that is possibly present can escape and evaporate,” they said, adding that “another problem is that the filters that keep the visible light and heat outside and allow the EUV to enter, can easily break.”
“When we receive the first image, we will know whether the filters and the cameras are healthy or not. The EUI team is working hard on this, each from his own home office. The EUI team hopes to report next week that everything went fine,” the Observatory concluded.