Space

June 17, 2013

NASA’s newest solar mission spacecraft ready for launch

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft is on track for a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., June 26.

IRIS will fill a crucial gap in the ability of scientists to advance Sun-Earth connection studies by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through a dynamic interface region ñ the chromosphere and transition region ñ between the solar surface and the solar corona.

“The entire IRIS team is enormously pleased that we’ve reached this crucial milestone,” said Gary Kushner, Lockheed Martin IRIS program manager. “After many months of hard work by the Lockheed Martin team and all of our collaborators and subcontractors in designing, engineering, building and testing the instrument and integrated spacecraft, our goal of putting IRIS into orbit is in sight and we look forward to producing great science at a low cost.”

The goal of the IRIS program is to better understand how energy and plasma move from a lower layer of the sun’s surface called the photosphere, through the chromosphere layer and to the outer corona layer. Observation into this movement has been a fundamental challenge in Solar and Heliospheric science, and the IRIS mission will open a window of discovery into this crucial region by providing observations necessary to pinpoint physical forces at work in this little understood piece of real estate near the surface of the sun.

“The interpretation of the IRIS spectra is a major effort coordinated by the IRIS Science Team that will utilize the full extent of the power of the most advanced computational resources in the world. It is this new capability, along with development of state of the art codes and numerical models by the University of Oslo, that capture the complexities of this region, which make the IRIS mission possible. Without these important elements we would be unable to fully interpret the IRIS spectra,” said Dr. Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator and physicist at the ATC Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto. “With IRIS, we have a unique opportunity to provide significant missing pieces in our understanding of energy transport on the sun. The complex processes and enormous contrasts of density, temperature and magnetic field within this interface region require instrument and modeling capabilities that are now finally within our reach.”

The IRIS observatory will fly in a sun-synchronous polar orbit for continuous solar observations on a two-year mission. It will obtain ultraviolet spectra and high-resolution images focused on the chromosphere and the transition region to the outer corona. Spectra will cover temperatures from 4,500 K to 107 K, with images covering temperatures from 4,500 to 65,000 K.

NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. is responsible for mission operations and the ground data system. The Norwegian Space Centre and NASA’s Near Earth Network will provide the ground stations to support the IRIS mission using antennas at Svalbard, Norway, Fairbanks, Alaska, McMurdo, Antarctica and Wallops Island, Va. The science data will be managed by the Joint Science Operations Center of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, run by Stanford and Lockheed Martin. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the Explorers Program. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is responsible for launch management.

Part of NASA’s Small Explorers, which deliver space exploration missions costing less than $120 million, IRIS was designed and built at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, Calif.† The program was developed with support from Lockheed Martin’s Civil Space line of business as well as partners Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Montana State University, Stanford University and the University of Oslo.
Over the years, NASA’s Explorers Program has launched a number of Explorer spacecraft carrying a wide variety of scientific investigations. It provides access to space using one of several, lower-cost expendable launch vehicles available through NASA’s launch services program.

The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) and creates the technology foundation for the company’s business. In addition, the ATC conducts research into understanding and predicting space weather and the behavior of our Sun, including its impacts on Earth and climate. It has a five-decade-long heritage of spaceborne instruments.

LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs and develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil government and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense systems; and nanotechnology research and development.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>