NASA Retires TRACE Spacecraft After Highly Successful Mission

July 1, 2010 by Susan Hendrix
NASA Retires TRACE Spacecraft After Highly Successful Mission

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Transition Region And Coronal Explorer, known as TRACE, conducted its final observations of the sun on June 21.

Although launched on April Fools' Day, 1998, TRACE quickly proved its worth, observing - for the first time - an entire cycle of solar activity and imaging dynamic coronal phenomena.

TRACE provided images at five times the magnification of those taken by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope Instrument aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

Many details of the fine structure of the corona were observed for the first time. Early in its mission, it discovered the fine-scale magnetic features where enhanced heating occurs at the footpoints of coronal loop systems in solar active regions, which later became known as "coronal moss."

In 2001, TRACE observations of astonishing coronal activity were highlighted in the IMAX movie SolarMax.

High spatial resolution observations of the are now being carried out by NASA''s newest eye on the sun, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a Goddard-built spacecraft managed by the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Division. SDO's field of view is much larger than TRACE, so that the entire disk of the sun, not a small area, is imaged in every observation.

Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., developed the TRACE instrument and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Flight Projects Directorate designed and built this Small Explorer class spacecraft. The entire mission was accomplished for $10M under budget.

The video will load shortly
The TRACE spacecraft observes an X-ray flare over solar active region AR9906, April 21, 2002.

During its 12 year mission, TRACE produced millions of stunning images and contributed to more than 1,000 scientific publications.

Explore further: Scientists One Step Closer to Forecasting 'Clear Skies' for Astronauts

More information: trace.lmsal.com/

Related Stories

A New View of Coronal Waves

December 11, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The corona is the hot outer region of the sun's atmosphere. The corona is threaded by magnetic fields that loop and twist upwards from the sun's surface, driven by motions of its dense atmosphere.

The Sun's X-file under the Spotlight

September 3, 2004

One of the Sun's greatest mysteries is about to be unravelled by UK solar astrophysicists hosting a major international workshop at the University of St Andrews from September 6-9th 2004. For years scientists have been baffled ...

Solar Fireworks Signal New Space Weather Mystery

May 24, 2005

The most intense burst of solar radiation in five decades accompanied a large solar flare on January 20. It shook space weather theory and highlighted the need for new forecasting techniques, according to several presentations ...

SECCHI team obtains images of the solar wind at Earth

December 7, 2007

Using the Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instruments on board NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, a consortium of scientists has seen, for the first ...

Science with the solar space observatory Hinode

March 20, 2008

The solar space observatory Hinode was launched in September 2006, with the name "Hinode" meaning sunrise in Japanese. The Hinode satellite carries a solar optical telescope (SOT), an X-ray telescope (XRT), and an EUV imaging ...

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.