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NASA Facts NASA's Role in Japan's Solar-B Mission

NASA Facts NASA's Role in Japan's Solar-B Mission

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 17, 2011
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02/17/2011

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration
      N      A      S      A
      f     a     c      t     s
www.nasa.gov
To learn more about our nearest star, NASAis providing instrumental scientic and engi-neering support to Solar-B — an internationalmission to study the sun.The heart o the mission is a large solar opticaltelescope developed by Solar-B’s sponsoringorganization, the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency (JAXA), based in the Tokyo suburb oSagamihara. Images gleaned by its telescopewill enable scientists to study the sun at specifcwavelengths in the visible spectrum.
Additional
instruments developed with international
 partners will increase Solar-B’s observationalpowers, enabling scientists to record datarom beyond the optical plane — the portiono the electromagnetic spectrum visible to thehuman eye.Collectively, these Solar-B instruments — theSolar Optical Telescope Focal Plane Package,
X-ray Telescope and Extreme UltravioletSpectrometer — will record how the energy
 stored in and released by the magnetic eldspreads through the sun's outer atmosphere.These measurements, along with imagescaptured by the solar optical telescope, willhelp scientists better understand the origin othe violent power o the sun.JAXA’s international partners include NASA,the Particle
Physics and Astronomy ResearchCouncil based in Swindon, United Kingdomand the European Space
 
Agency. With itsinternational partners, NASA is designing
andbuilding major elements or the three support-ing
Solar-B instruments. NASA’s MarshallSpace Flight
Center in Huntsville, Alabama,is managing the development o instru-ment components provided by NASA, withadditional engineering, manuacturing andscientic support provided by academiaand industry.Collectively, this team has developed theadvanced suite o Solar-B instruments — satel-lite-based tools that will help scientists betterunderstand our sun and how its explosiveenergy impacts Earth. The instruments werespecically designed to provide a set ocomplementary observations that are neededto understand the physical processes that areassociated with the propagation and dissipa-tion o the sun’s magnetic ree energy in thesolar atmosphere.
Solar-B Instruments
Solar Optical Telescope Focal PlanePackage:
An integral part o Solar-B’s SolarOptical Telescope, the Focal Plane Packageis a suite o three separate instruments. Theseinclude a high-resolution imager to generateoptical images o the sun, an imaging vectormagnetograph that will make rapid obser-vations o the sun’s magnetic and velocityelds, and a spectropolarimeter that will makethe most precise observations o the sun’smagnetic eld.
Together these instruments will, or the rsttime rom
space, measure small changesin the strength and direction o the sun’smagnetic eld. They also will show how thesechanges evolve and coincide with dynamicevents
seen in the sun’s corona — the sun's“atmosphere,” which
extends millions o milesinto space.
Once Solar-B is operating in space, one keyproduct o this instrument suite will be vectormagnetograms — pictorial representationsthat illustrate variations in
the strength o thesun’s magnetic eld. These magnetograms willhave a spatial resolution 5-10-times better thanthose obtainable rom the ground, enablingscientists to better understand how the
Studying Our Nearest Star 
NASA’s Role in Japan’sSolar-B Mission

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