Friday, February 3, 2012

Coronal Mass Ejection Update 2012-02-03 [HD]

Featuring HinodeHinode Science InstrumentsInstitute of Space and
Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA)By
studying the sun's magnetic field, scientists hope to shed new light on
explosive solar activity that can interfere with satellite communications and
electric power transmission grids on Earth and threaten astronauts on the way to
or working on the surface of the moon. In particular they want to learn if they
can identify the magnetic field configurations that lead to these explosive
energy releases and use this information to predict when these events may occur.
Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Hinode mission
is a collaboration between the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the
United Kingdom and Europe. NASA helped in the development, funding and assembly
of the spacecraft's three science instruments. Hinode is part of the Solar
Terrestrial Probes (STP) Program within the Heliophysics Division of NASA's
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Solar Terrestrial Probes Program
is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA's
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., managed the development of
instrument components provided by NASA, with additional support by academia and
industry. The Solar Optical Telescope This suite of instruments will for
the first time precisely measure small changes in the sun's magnetic field. The
instruments also will show how these changes evolve and coincide with dynamic
events seen in the sun's corona -- the sun's "atmosphere," which extends
millions of miles into space. The Solar Optical Telescope was developed by the
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, with the telescope's Focal Plane
Package developed by Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, Calif., and the High-Altitude
Observatory in Boulder, Colo. NASA is responsible for the design and development
of the Focal Plane Package, and Dr. Ted Tarbell of Lockheed Martin Advanced
Technology Center is the principal investigator. The X-ray Telescope
The X-ray Telescope will capture X-ray images of the sun's corona -- the
hot, million-degree, outer atmosphere. The corona is the spawning ground for the
solar flares and coronal mass ejections that dominate the space between the sun
and Earth. These phenomena are powered by the sun's magnetic field. By combining
observations by Solar-B's optical and X-ray telescopes, scientists will be able
to study how changes in the sun's magnetic field trigger these explosive solar
events. This telescope was developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is providing the telescope optics, filters
and structure, while the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is providing the
charge-coupled-device, or CCD, camera. Dr. Ed DeLuca of the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory is the principal investigator. The Extreme
Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer Although capable of generating images,
the primary function of Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Package is to measure the
flow velocity, or speed of solar particles, and diagnose the temperature and
density of solar plasma -- the ionized gas that surrounds the sun, its corona
and beyond. The Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Package provides a crucial link
between the other two instruments because it can measure the layers that
separate the photosphere from the corona -- an area known as the chromosphere
and the chromosphere-corona transition. The spectrometer was developed by the
Mullard Space Science Laboratory of the University College London in the United
Kingdom and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. Major spectrometer
elements were developed in the United Kingdom under the direction of Mullard's
Professor Leonard Culhane, who is the principal investigator for the Particle
Physics and Astronomy Research Council who is funding the investigation in the
United Kingdom. Supporting Culhane in the development of the instrument's
optical systems and with the scientific analysis is the principal investigator,
Dr. George Doschek of the Naval Research Laboratory.

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