Washington: NASA is preparing to launch its next scientific satellite this month that will provide the most detailed look ever at the Sun`s lower atmosphere or interface region.
The Interface Region Imageing Spectrograph (IRIS) mission, which is scheduled for launch June 26, will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up as it travels through this largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere.
The interface region, located between the Sun`s visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the Sun`s ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth`s climate.
The IRIS spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin`s Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif. It will launch aboard a Pegasus XL rocket deployed by an Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast.
"IRIS data will fill a crucial gap in our understanding of the solar interface region upon joining our fleet of heliophysics spacecraft," said Jeffrey Newmark, NASA`s IRIS program scientist in Washington.
"For the first time we will have the necessary observations for understanding how energy is delivered to the million-degree outer solar corona and how the base of the solar wind is driven," he added.
IRIS carries an ultraviolet telescope that feeds a multi-channel imageing spectrograph. The satellite is the first mission designed to use an ultraviolet telescope to obtain high-resolution images and spectra every few seconds and provide observations of areas as small as 150 miles across the Sun.