7 companies from Poland are taking part in the project to create precise photos of the Sun's corona

Luc Williams

PROBA-3 is the first mission in history to use two satellites moving in a precise formation. This is one of the projects of the European Space Agency (ESA).

40 companies from 14 countries took part in the creation of the PROBA-3 mission

40 companies from 14 countries took part in the creation of the PROBA-3 mission, including many that had never worked in the space sector before, said Dietmar Pilz, director of technology, engineering and quality at ESA, during a press conference on Wednesday. Spain and Belgium are the countries that led the project.

Seven Polish entities were involved in the construction of the PROBA-3 mission: the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN), N7 Space, Creotech, Sener, GMV, Solaris Optics and PCO.

CBK PAN was responsible for the construction of the coronagraph, in particular its power supply, control panel and transfer of collected data. GMV's Polish branch was involved in the design, implementation and testing of an on-board function to calculate the relative position of satellites based on GPS measurements. The Spanish company Sener (Sener Aerospace & Defense) was responsible for the flight equipment and ground support, and its Polish branch prepared some of the components.

We know very little about the Sun's corona

PROBA-3 is two satellites that together form a 144-meter solar coronagraph. The first of them, Coronograph, weighs 340 kg and is designed to observe and photograph the Sun's corona. The second one – Occulter with a mass of 200 kg has a disk mounted on it, which will cover the Sun when taking photos. PROBA-3 will orbit in an elliptical orbit, reaching at its furthest point about 60,000. km from Earth.

“We know very little about the Sun's corona because the solar eclipse phenomenon does not last long, a maximum of 7 minutes and 29 seconds, and we can usually observe it on Earth once a year,” said Andrei Zhukov, a scientist at the Royal Observatory (ROB) in Belgium . The next eclipse will take place on April 8 and will be visible in North America. “Thanks to the PROBA-3 mission, it will be possible to create an artificial eclipse that will last 6 hours,” Zhukov added.

The research carried out as part of the PROBA-3 mission is aimed at gaining knowledge about the structure of the solar corona and the weather on the Sun. Phenomena occurring on the Sun have a direct impact on satellites in orbit, as well as communication and energy networks on Earth.

The satellites will be launched in September 2024.

The satellites will be launched in September 2024 on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SHAR) launch pad on Sriharikota Island, India.

According to ESA, the budget of the PROBA-3 mission is EUR 200 million.

PROBA (PRoject for On-Board Autonomy) is a series of space missions launched in 2001 that are of a research and experimental nature. Their main goal is to test satellites intended for Earth observation.

Marta Zabłocka


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