Washington: After two months of preparations in Kiruna, north of Sweden, the balloon-borne solar observatory Sunrise is ready for its next flight.
As soon as the weather conditions are right, a huge, helium-filled balloon will carry Sunrise to a travelling height of approximately 35 kilometers.
Equipped with the largest solar telescope ever to have left the Earth`s surface, Sunrise will then turn its unique gaze on the Sun.
The mission is led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany.
Four years ago, Sunrise embarked on its first, six-day journey-and delivered the most detailed images of the Sun up to that date.
However, contrary to all expectations, the Sun was extremely quiet.
Now, it is heading towards its next activity maximum. Sunrise 2 will be a journey to the active Sun.
"Turbulences in the atmosphere inevitably blur all images of ground-based telescopes," Dr. Peter Barthol from MPS, Sunrise project manager, said.
Sunrise`s telescope, however, will enjoy a unique look at the Sun - and can therefore discern structures with a size of less than 100 kilometers.
Once the observatory reaches its travelling height, polar winds will grasp balloon and gondola and carry them westwards around the North Pole.
"Thanks to the midnight sun in these latitudes north of the Arctic Circle, we will be able to look at the Sun nonstop", Barthol said.
After six or seven days, Sunrise will then land in the north of Canada with the help of a parachute.