IRIS celebrates year two with ongoing scientific discoveries

IRIS celebrates year two with ongoing scientific discoveries
Artist's rendition of the IRIS satellite in space. Credit: NASA

On June 27, 2015, NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission will celebrate its second year in space. IRIS observations have advanced our understanding of what role the interface region, which lies between the sun's photosphere and corona, plays in powering its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and driving the solar wind. Since its first birthday last summer, IRIS data has revealed unexpected complexity in the interface region and investigated the source of the extremely high temperatures of the solar atmosphere, or corona.

The IRIS spacecraft orbits Earth and uses its ultraviolet telescope to obtain high-resolution solar images and spectra. IRIS observations along with advanced computer models are deepening our insight of how heat and energy move through the lower atmosphere of the sun and other sun-like stars.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer mission that complements the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Hinode missions to explore the variable solar atmosphere and how it impacts Earth. SDO and Hinode monitor the solar surface and , with IRIS watching the region in between.

In May 2015, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, completed its 10,000th orbit around Earth. Two months earlier, IRIS collected imagery of a solar flare, using its unique combination of imagery and spectra. Watch the video to see how IRIS data helps scientists learn more about the sun. Credit: NASA/IRIS

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