Mere months after launch, the spacecraft has already travelled within 77 million kilometers (48 million miles) of the Sun's surface - roughly half the distance between the star and Earth. It will also be flying over the poles of the Sun and take images.
The orbiter, which was built by firm Airbus and blasted off from Nasa's Cape Canaveral site in Florida on February 10, took the pictures last month, which shows mini solar flares called "campsites", dotted across its surface.
"These wonderful images will help scientists piece together the sun's atmospheric layers, which is important for understanding how it drives space weather near the Earth and throughout the solar system", Holly Gilbert, a NASA project scientist for the mission, said in a statement.
The Solar Orbiter will help scientists piece together the Sun's atmospheric layers and analyse the solar wind as well as unlock the mysteries of coronal heating.
The Solar Orbiter has encountered some of the usual challenges associated with space exploration - in early June, it had an unexpected run-in with comet ATLAS's ion and dust tails.
It's not yet clear what these campfires are or how they correspond to solar brightenings observed by other spacecraft.
Daniel Mueller, an ESA project scientist working on the probe, said it was too early for scientific conclusions, as these early images were "merely byproducts of technical tests" as the probe is configured for its fully operational scientific phase. The novel coronavirus forced mission control at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany to close down completely for more than a week.
"This makes us confident that Solar Orbiter will help us answer profound open questions about the Sun". And in a first, PHI revealed a view of a local magnetic field on the Sun that was not visible from Earth at the time, exemplifying just one advantage of the spacecraft's intentionally tilted orbit. Its lone camera faces away from the sun to observe the solar wind.
The craft captured this picture during a pass between the orbits of Venus and Mercury Credit: NASAAt that point, it will send back much more data about the Sun's surface.
"The images produced such a flawless zodiacal light pattern, so clean". It is thought that these "campfires" - smaller in scope by a magnitude of millions and billions than the solar flares we see from Earth - could be part of the reason why the sun's outer atmosphere, or "corona", is three hundred times hotter than its core.