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Topic: NASA Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph

NASA’s IRIS Telescope sees it’s strongest Solar Flare to date

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On January 28th, 2014, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, witnessed its strongest solar flare since it launched in the summer of 2013. Solar flares are bursts of x-rays and light that stream out into space, but scientists don’t yet know the fine details of what sets them off.

IRIS peers into a layer of the sun’s lower atmosphere just above the surface, called the chromosphere, with unprecedented resolution. However, IRIS can’t look at the entire sun at the same time, so the team must always make decisions about what region might provide useful observations.

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NASA launches their Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) Spacecraft

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft launched Wednesday at 7:27pm PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. The mission to study the solar atmosphere was placed in orbit by an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket.

“We are thrilled to add IRIS to the suite of NASA missions studying the sun,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “IRIS will help scientists understand the mysterious and energetic interface between the surface and corona of the sun.”

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NASA’s next Small Explorer mission, the IRIS Spacecraft, begins Final Testing

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s next Small Explorer (SMEX) mission to study the little-understood lower levels of the sun’s atmosphere has been fully integrated and final testing is underway.

Scheduled to launch in April 2013, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) will make use of high-resolution images, data and advanced computer models to unravel how matter, light, and energy move from the sun’s 6,000 K (10,240 F / 5,727 C) surface to its million K (1.8 million F / 999,700 C) outer atmosphere, the corona.

Such movement ultimately heats the sun’s atmosphere to temperatures much hotter than the surface, and also powers solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can have societal and economic impacts on Earth.

The fully integrated spacecraft and science instrument for NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is seen in a clean room at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Sunnyvale, CA facility. The solar arrays are deployed in the configuration they will assume when in orbit. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

The fully integrated spacecraft and science instrument for NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is seen in a clean room at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Sunnyvale, CA facility. The solar arrays are deployed in the configuration they will assume when in orbit. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

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Hinode’s First Light, and Five More Years

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On October 28th, 2006, the Hinode solar mission was at last ready. The spacecraft launched on September 22nd, but such missions require a handful of diagnostics before the instruments can be turned on and collect what is called “first light.”

Hopes were high. Hinode had the potential to provide some of the highest resolution images of the sun the world had ever seen — as well as help solve such mysteries as why the sun’s atmosphere is a thousand times hotter than its surface and how the magnetic fields roiling through the sun create dramatic explosions able to send energy to the farthest reaches of the solar system.

Vivid orange streamers of super-hot, electrically charged gas (plasma) arc from the surface of the Sun, revealing the structure of the solar magnetic field rising vertically from a sunspot. This extremely detailed image of the Sun was taken by Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope on November 20th, 2006 and showed that the Sun’s magnetic field was much more turbulent and dynamic than previously known. (Credit: Hinode, JAXA/NASA)

Vivid orange streamers of super-hot, electrically charged gas (plasma) arc from the surface of the Sun, revealing the structure of the solar magnetic field rising vertically from a sunspot. This extremely detailed image of the Sun was taken by Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope on November 20th, 2006 and showed that the Sun’s magnetic field was much more turbulent and dynamic than previously known. (Credit: Hinode, JAXA/NASA)

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