NASA Retires TRACE Spacecraft After Highly Successful Mission

Jul 01, 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.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
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: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

More information: trace.lmsal.com/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A New View of Coronal Waves

Dec 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

Sep 03, 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

Dec 07, 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

Mar 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), ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

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.