National Aeronautics and Space Administration
N A S A
f a c t s
To learn more about our nearest star, NASAis providing instrumental scientic 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 oSagamihara. Images gleaned by its telescopewill enable scientists to study the sun at specifcwavelengths in the visible spectrum.
instruments developed with international
partners will increase Solar-B’s observationalpowers, enabling scientists to record datarom 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 othe 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, manuacturing andscientic 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 werespecically designed to provide a set ocomplementary 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 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 velocityelds, 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