The 3 telescopes of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) onboard Solar Orbiter opened their doors on May 12, 2020 to photograph the Sun. This is exactly 1 year ago. This ‘First Light’ was a crucial step to get the EUI telescopes up and running and pave the path to research.
During the past year, our space telescope experts had to figure out what the best way was to operate the telescopes remotely while they cruise through deep space. Answers to critical questions needed to be found: which exposure time produces the best image, how many pictures can we take per minute, do we have to finetune the data compression by the onboard computer, where are the bad bad pixels in the sensors, do the telescopes understand the uploaded computer commands, etc.
The EUI support team worked relentlessly to build a firm basis such that the EUI telescopes can take pictures in the best possible conditions, with the most performant software and smoothly running techniques.
Researchers everywhere are eager to analyse such high quality and high resolution pictures. The first light of May 12 2020 was already an excellent foretaste leading to an immediate success by revealing ‘campfires’ on the Sun. Researchers started debating right away this discovery. It might give an answer to the long standing mystery of why the solar atmosphere is much hotter than the solar surface.
One year after launch, the EUI telescopes are ready for their scientific mission that will officially start on December 27 2021. Scientists worldwide are preparing to use the EUI instrument, together with other instruments on Solar Orbiter, on different space missions and on the ground.
It's clear, EUI paves the way for more, better and in-depth science. Expectations are high.