IRIS First Light
- Visualizations by:
- Tom Bridgman
- View full credits
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On July 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm PDT (2:14 pm EDT) the IRIS Lockheed Martin instrument team successfully opened the door on NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, which launched June 27, 2013, aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
As the telescope door opened, IRIS’s single instrument began to observe the sun for the first time. Designed to research the interface region in more detail than has ever been done before, IRIS’s instrument is a combination of an ultraviolet telescope and a spectrograph. The telescope provides high-resolution images, capturing data on about 1 percent of the sun at a time. The images can resolve very fine features, as small as 150 miles across.
While the telescope can look at only one wavelength of light at a time, the spectrograph collects information about many wavelengths of light at once. The instrument then splits the sun’s light into its various wavelengths and measures how much of any given wavelength is present. Analysis of the spectral lines can also provide velocity, temperature and density information, key information when trying to track how energy and heat moves through the region.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
- Tom Bridgman (GST) [Lead]
- Alan Title (LMSAL)
- Bart De Pontieu (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab)
- Gary Kushner (LMSAL)
- Genna Duberstein (ADNET)
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
IRIS First Light: The View from SDO/AIA @ 160 nm
July 25, 2013, 9 a.m.Read more
Contemporaneous views of the Sun from SDO. Used in support of the IRIS First Light release. Full disk view of the Sun in the 160 nanometer wavelength. This movie zooms into the region of the Sun imaged by IRIS.
July 19, 2013, 5 a.m.Read more
NASA s IRIS spacecraft into orbit. Credit: NASA TV.
IRIS: Studying the Energy Flow that Powers the Solar Atmosphere
June 19, 2013, 3 a.m.Read more
In late June 2013, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. IRIS will tease out the rules governing the lowest layers of the solar atmosphere — historically some of the hardest to untangle. Known as the solar interface region, this is one of the most complex areas in the sun s happening in the solar interface region better than ever before. IRIS Mission TrailerView the video on YouTube. For complete transcript, click here. IRIS Science OverviewView the video on YouTube. At the end of June 2013, NASA will launch its newest mission to watch the sun: the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS. IRIS will show the lowest levels of the sun’s atmosphere, the interface region, in more detail than has even been observed before. This will help scientists understand how the energy dancing through this area helps power the sun’s million-degree upper atmosphere, the corona, as well as how this energy powers the solar wind constantly streaming off the sun to fill the entire solar system. Data visualizations courtesy of Mats Carlsson and Viggo Hansteen, University of Oslo, NorwayFor complete transcript, click here.
IRIS L-14 Media Briefing
June 4, 2013, 8 a.m.Read more
Lying just above the sun GSFC A sequence of images from the surface to the Corona taken by the Heliospheric and Magnetic Imager (HMI) and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instruments on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).Credit: NASA SDO Jets at the limb seen in the light of Calcium II by the Focal Plane Package on the JAXA/ISAS Hinode Mission.Credit: JAXA/ISAS Hinode Jet and plumes near a sunspot near the limb seen in the light of Calcium II by the Focal Plane Package on the JAXA/ISAS Hinode Mission.Credit: JAXA/ISAS, Hinode Blinks between and image in He II and an enhanced image. The original image is from AIA on SDO and the enhanced image was created at the LM Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL).Credit: Dr. Alan Title, LMSAL A simulation of the Sun in UV light. The movie pans from disk center to the limb. Credit: Prof. Mats Carlsson at Oslo University A simulation of heating by a jet. Credit: Dr. Juan Sykora at LMSAL A simulation of the location of heating in the transition region. Credit: Prof. Viggo Hansteen University of Oslo A simulation of the Sun and corresponding spectra in Mg II. Credit: Prof. Mats Carlsson, University of Oslo A comparison of IRIS image reconstruction with previous instruments. Credit: Dr. Bart de Pontieu at LMSAL This graphic shows the IRIS observatory with the solar arrays removed. The orange section to the left is the spacecraft bus which includes the spacecraft support structure, the command and data handling system, power distribution system, reaction wheels, X- and S-Band communications systems, Li-Ion battery, magnetic torque rods, and electronics for the sun sensors. The section to the right of the spacecraft includes the instrument optics package and electronics, several components of the attitude control system, and the solar arrays. The instrument includes a 20cm telescope optimized for solar observations which feeds a 5 channel imaging spectrograph. The green section is the telescope assembly, the light blue section is the spectrograph, and the dark blue box is the separate instrument electronics box.Credit: LMSAL, LM ATC This is a photo of the complete IRIS observatory with the solar arrays deployed. This is taken in a large clean tent at LM prior to vibration testing and prior to installation of the flight MLI blankets. The solar arrays have just been deployed using flight commands.Credit: LM photo A second picture of the IRIS observatory. The solar arrays have been stowed in preparation for vibration and shock testing.Credit: LM Photo Photo of the instrument optics package prior to instrument level thermal vacuum testing. The section to the left of the white collar is the 20cm solar telescope and the section to the right of the collar is the imaging spectrograph. The spectrograph includes 18 optics used for transmitting the light from the telescope through the 4 channels to the focal planes as shown in the next sequence of images. On top of the telescope assembly is the smaller guide telescope which provides the pointing signal to the secondary mirror of the telescope and to the attitude control system in the spacecraft. The white collar is the primary mirror radiator used to reject the solar thermal load.Credit: LM Photo The optical portion of the instrument and the light paths from the primary and secondary mirror of the telescope assembly into the spectrograph. The spectrograph then breaks the light into 2 Near Ultra Violet (NUV)(2785A – 2835A) and 2 Far Ultra-violet (FUV) (1332A-1406A) and one imaging channel.Credit: LMSAL These series of photos show the fabrication of the bus structure from a large block of aluminum to the completed bus assembly. Credit: LM Video IRIS observatory (without solar arrays) after completion of thermal vacuum and thermal balance testing. Engineers are inspecting the observatory and preparing for transport back to the clean tent for solar array install and final performance testing. A protective cover is on top of the telescope assembly. The vacuum chamber is in the background. Thermal vacuum testing was the last in a series of environmental tests including: vibration testing, pyro-shock (separation) testing, EMI/EMC testing, and thermal vacuum and thermal balance. Optical and system performance tests are carried out throughout the test program to ensure that the observatory meets all of its requirements.Credit: PM Photo This video shows the transportation of the IRIS observatory from the thermal vacuum chamber back to the clean tent for final testing and preparations for delivery to the launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The second part of the vide shows the final solar array deployment test. The arrays were released using flight commands. This shows the observatory in its final flight configuration including the MLI blankets. This is how the observatory will appear in orbit with the front of the telescope facing the sun.Credit: LM Video These series of photos show the receipt of the observatory at the Orbital processing facility at VAFB. The observatory was received on April 16, 2013 and transferred to its handling fixture and then transferred to a clean tent located at the third stage of the Pegasus rocket. Several photos show the processing of the observatory in the clean tent including the installation of the separation system that mates the observatory to the rocket. The final photos show the Pegasus rocket and the fairings being prepared for installation.Credit: NASA/Kennedy Space Flight Center This video clip shows a few team members at the IRIS Mission Operations Center (MOC) preparing for a day of activities. The IRIS MOC, part of the NASA Ames Multi-Mission Operations Center (MMOC), serves as an example of a small, low cost operations shared facility for NASA.Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center This animation shows the IRIS 620kmx670km, approximate 98 degree inclination, sun-synchronous, polar orbit. Each 97 minute revolution results in 14-15 orbits per day on average and allows for long stretches of uninterrupted or eclipse free solar viewing.Credit: Analytical Graphics, Inc., STK/Lockheed-Martin/IRIS This animation shows the initial orbit ground track of the IRIS observatory once it is launched off the western coast of the United States. Communications with the TDRSS allow immediate communications with the Observatory. Within 15-20 minutes, IRIS passes over the McMurdo Ground Station in Antarctica. Approximately one hour after launch IRIS passes over the north pole, Svalbard Ground Station, then shortly afterward communicates with the Alaska Satellite Facility. On the fifth orbit Wallops Ground Station comes into view.Credit: NASA/IRIS This animation shows the ground stations and primary facilities used to support the IRIS mission. IRIS collaborates with the Norwegian Space Centre as they provide a science data path for the mission. The NEN or Near Earth Network located at Goddard Space Flight Center provides the central hub for ground station support. Data makes its way to the Mission Operations Center at NASA Ames as science data and images are eventually stored at Stanford. The solar data is then used in multiple ways to benefit society and space exploration.Credit: NASA/IRIS This animation provides a look at the tasks the team on the ground perform daily as they prepare for and upload a command set once per weekday. During nominal operations, science and observatory health data are captured daily in a “lights-out” mode. Within six hours, science data is processed and stored at the Science Data Processing facility at Stanford University. A website provides a portal for the public science community to access the data.Credit: NASA Ames Research Center/IRIS This animation shows the timeline of activities for the IRIS mission. Following launch, during the initial orbits, the spacecraft “detumbles”, opens the solar arrays, acquires the sun and communicates with the TDRSS and ground stations. For the first thirty days, the instrument and spacecraft are carefully checked and the telescope door is opened on day 21. The science campaign officially begins on day 60 as IRIS begins its exploration of the sun. Nominal daily operations continue for an exciting two year solar mission. After two years, if the observatory is healthy and productive, NASA then has the option to extend science operations.NASA Ames Research Center/IRIS Video File for Newsrooms and EditorsCleanroom b-roll, launch, deploy, and beauty pass animations. A video showing the deployment of the Pegasus Rocket with the observatory from the Orbital L1011. The rocket is dropped from the L1011 and is in unpowered, guided flight for 5 secThe first stage lights and burns for 72 sec, then coasts for 17 sec. The rocket is at 71km prior to lighting of the second stage.The second stage lights and burns for 73 sec, then coasts for 37 sec. The fairing separates at 131 sec. The rocket is at 600km prior to the firing of the third stageThird stage burns for 69 sec placing the observatory in orbit at approximately 660km.Once the payload is at 660km, the third stage and payload separate, at 786 seconds and the third stage carries out maneuvers to clear the observatory orbit.The observatory then deploys the solar arrays, acquires the sun, and begins a 30 day on-orbit checkout and commissioning phase. After a 21 day outgassing and checkout period, the front door is opened and checkout of the optical systems started. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptural Image LabThis video is available here.
IRIS Launch, Deploy and Beauty Passes
Oct. 18, 2012, 10 a.m.Read more
Understanding the interface between the photosphere and corona remains a fundamental challenge in solar and heliospheric science. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission opens a window of discovery into this crucial region by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromosphere and transition region into the corona using spectrometry and imaging. IRIS is designed to provide significant new information to increase our understanding of energy transport into the corona and solar wind and provide an archetype for all stellar atmospheres. The unique instrument capabilities, coupled with state of the art 3-D modeling, will fill a large gap in our knowledge of this dynamic region of the solar atmosphere. The mission will extend the scientific output of existing heliophysics spacecraft that follow the effects of energy release processes from the sun to Earth.IRIS will provide key insights into all these processes, and thereby advance our understanding of the solar drivers of space weather from the corona to the far heliosphere, by combining high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy for the entire chromosphere and adjacent regions. IRIS will resolve in space, time, and wavelength the dynamic geometry from the chromosphere to the low-temperature corona to shed much-needed light on the physics of this magnetic interface region. A video showing the deployment of the Pegasus Rocket with the observatory from the Orbital L1011.The rocket is dropped from the L1011 and is in unpowered, guided flight for 5 secThe first stage lights and burns for 72 sec, then coasts for 17 sec. The rocket is at 71km prior to lighting of the second stage.The second stage lights and burns for 73 sec, then coasts for 37 sec. The fairing separates at 131 sec. The rocket is at 600km prior to the firing of the third stageThird stage burns for 69 sec placing the observatory in orbit at approximately 660km.Once the payload is at 660km, the third stage and payload separate, at 786 seconds and the third stage carries out maneuvers to clear the observatory orbit.The observatory then deploys the solar arrays, acquires the sun, and begins a 30 day on-orbit checkout and commissioning phase. After a 21 day outgassing and checkout period, the front door is opened and checkout of the optical systems started.Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptural Image Lab