Thales Alenia, CGS To Build Telescope for Europe’s Solar Orbiter

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PARIS — Thales Alenia Space’s Italian division and Italy’s CGS, a subsidiary of OHB of Germany, will build a visible and ultraviolet imaging telescope for Europe’s future Solar Orbiter satellite under a contract with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) announced Oct. 16.

Under the contract, valued at 20 million euros ($27 million), Thales Alenia Space and CGS will build the Multi Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy (METIS), which will provide high-resolution images of the solar corona in visible and infrared light.

Scheduled for launch in 2017, Solar Orbiter is being managed by the 20-nation European Space Agency (ESA), with Astrium Satellites Ltd. of Britain acting as prime contractor under a 300 million-euro contract.

As is the case with most ESA science missions, individual European governments and laboratories are financing most of the observing instruments. ASI is financing METIS. 

In addition to its METIS work with CGS, Thales Alenia Space is building Solar Orbiter’s heat shield. The satellite is designed to operate at a distance of 0.28 astronomical units from the sun, and to withstand temperatures of up to 700 degrees Celsius.