NASA's IRIS mission readies for a new challenge

May 22, 2013 by Karen C. Fox

(Phys.org) —The time draws near. NASA is getting ready to launch a new mission, a mission to observe a largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere that powers its dynamic million-degree outer atmosphere and drives the solar wind.

In late June 2013, the Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. IRIS will advance our understanding of the interface region, a region in the lower atmosphere of the sun where most of the sun's are generated. Such emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.

The interface region lies between the sun's 11,000-degree Fahrenheit, white-hot, visible surface, the photosphere, and the much hotter multi-million-degree upper corona. Interactions between the violently moving plasma and the sun's magnetic field in this area may be the source of the energy that heats the corona to some hundreds and occasionally thousands of times hotter than the sun's surface.

IRIS will orbit Earth and use its ultraviolet telescope to obtain high-resolution solar images and spectra. IRIS observations along with advanced computer models will deepen our understanding of how heat and energy move through the lower atmosphere of the sun and other sun-like stars.

For more information about NASA's IRIS mission, please visit: www.nasa.gov/iris

Explore further: Plasma jets are prime suspect in solar mystery

Related Stories

Plasma jets are prime suspect in solar mystery

January 6, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface. Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source ...

Spotting ultrafine loops in the Sun's corona

June 12, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A key to understanding the dynamics of the sun and what causes the great solar explosions there relies on deciphering how material, heat and energy swirl across the sun's surface and rise into the upper atmosphere, ...

NASA's IRIS spacecraft is fully integrated

January 19, 2013

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.

Why NASA observes the Sun in different wavelengths

January 23, 2013

(Phys.org)—Taking a photo of the sun with a standard camera will provide a familiar image: a yellowish, featureless disk, perhaps colored a bit more red when near the horizon since the light must travel through more of ...

New research brings light to star mystery

February 4, 2013

(Phys.org)—Scientists at Northumbria University have begun to unlock the mystery of why the outer edge of the Sun is much hotter than its surface for the first time.

Solar satellite arrives at Vandenberg AFB for launch

April 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday, April 16, to begin its final preparations for launch currently scheduled no earlier ...

Recommended for you

First detection of lithium from an exploding star

July 29, 2015

The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO's La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain ...

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

New names and insights at Ceres

July 29, 2015

Colorful new maps of Ceres, based on data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, showcase a diverse topography, with height differences between crater bottoms and mountain peaks as great as 9 miles (15 kilometers).

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.