NASA Mission To Eye Sun’s Activity


GREENBELT, Md. (UPI) — U.S. scientists are preparing for a rocket experiment they say will gather data on the sun and the eruptions and ejections that can travel as far as Earth.

NASA’s Extreme Ultraviolet Normal Incidence Spectrograph mission, scheduled for a Dec. 15 launch from White Sands, N.M., will gather a new snapshot of data every 1.2 seconds to track the way material of different temperatures flows through the sun’s complex atmosphere, known as the corona.

Study of the sun’s atmosphere requires watching it from space to record the ultraviolet, or UV, rays that simply don’t penetrate Earth’s atmosphere.

Satellites can gather such data, but a much less expensive method is to launch instruments such as NASA’s EUNIS aboard a rocket for a 6-minute trip above Earth’s atmosphere to collect data during a short trip to an altitude of 200 miles and back.

“Six minutes doesn’t sound like much,” solar scientist Douglas Rabin said in a NASA release Tuesday.

“But with an exposure every 1.2 seconds, we get very good time resolution and a lot of data. So we can observe minute details of how dynamic events on the sun happen over times of two to three minutes.”

The dynamic atmosphere of the sun powers a number of solar events, many of which stream out into the farthest reaches of the solar system, sometimes disrupting Earth-based technologies along the way, researchers said.

With the sun currently moving into the height of its 11-year activity cycle, researchers expect to record significant movement in the sun’s atmosphere.

“The last two times EUNIS flew were in 2006 and 2007,” said Adrian Daw, the mission’s instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Now the sun is waking up, getting more active and we’re going to see a whole different type of activity.”

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.