PARIS — The U.K. Space Agency will invest 11.5 million British pounds ($18 million) to develop four of the 10 scientific instruments to fly aboard Europe’s Solar Orbiter mission in 2017, the agency announced June 19.

Solar Orbiter, a collaborative effort between the 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, is designed to study the sun’s surface and atmosphere.

Astrium Ltd. of Britain is building the satellite under a contract valued at 300 million euros ($390 million) awarded by ESA in April. The mission’s total budget is estimated at about $1 billion including the provision and integration of the 10 instruments, the satellite’s launch and operations.

Following its usual practice, ESA is the agency that arranges for the satellite’s construction, launch and operations — in this case, with NASA handling the launch — while individual national agencies take responsibility for developing the observing instruments.

With U.K. Space Agency financing, British institutes will take lead responsibility for development of a magnetometer to study the sun’s magnetic field; an extreme ultraviolet imager to examine the solar corona; a spectral imaging telescope to image the solar disk; and a solar wind analyzer.



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Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.