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Topic: NASA’s Small Explorer Mission

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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