A journey of exploration to the polar regions of a star: probing the solar poles and the heliosphere from high helio-latitude

Louise Harra, Vincenzo Andretta, Thierry Appourchaux, Frédéric Baudin, Luis Bellot-Rubio, Aaron C. Birch, Patrick Boumier, Robert H. Cameron, Matts Carlsson, Thierry Corbard, Jackie Davies, Andrew Fazakerley, Silvano Fineschi, Wolfgang Finsterle, Laurent Gizon, Richard Harrison, Donald M. Hassler, John Leibacher, Paulett Liewer, Malcolm MacdonaldMilan Maksimovic, Neil Murphy, Giampiero Naletto, Giuseppina Nigro, Christopher Owen, Valentín Martínez-Pillet, Pierre Rochus, Marco Romoli, Takashi Sekii, Daniele Spadaro, Astrid Veronig, W. Schmutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A mission to view the solar poles from high helio-latitudes (above 60°) will build on the experience of Solar Orbiter as well as a long heritage of successful solar missions and instrumentation (e.g. SOHO Domingo et al. (Solar Phys. 162(1-2), 1–37 1995), STEREO Howard et al. (Space Sci. Rev. 136(1-4), 67–115 2008), Hinode Kosugi et al. (Solar Phys. 243(1), 3–17 2007), Pesnell et al. Solar Phys. 275(1–2), 3–15 2012), but will focus for the first time on the solar poles, enabling scientific investigations that cannot be done by any other mission. One of the major mysteries of the Sun is the solar cycle. The activity cycle of the Sun drives the structure and behaviour of the heliosphere and of course, the driver of space weather. In addition, solar activity and variability provides fluctuating input into the Earth climate models, and these same physical processes are applicable to stellar systems hosting exoplanets. One of the main obstructions to understanding the solar cycle, and hence all solar activity, is our current lack of understanding of the polar regions. In this White Paper, submitted to the European Space Agency in response to the Voyage 2050 call, we describe a mission concept that aims to address this fundamental issue. In parallel, we recognise that viewing the Sun from above the polar regions enables further scientific advantages, beyond those related to the solar cycle, such as unique and powerful studies of coronal mass ejection processes, from a global perspective, and studies of coronal structure and activity in polar regions. Not only will these provide important scientific advances for fundamental stellar physics research, they will feed into our understanding of impacts on the Earth and other planets’ space environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-183
Number of pages27
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Coronal mass ejection
  • Solar activity
  • Solar cycle
  • Solar poles
  • Sun

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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