Lockheed, NASA to Launch Sun-Observing Satellite; Gary Kushner Comments

IRIS satellite in B/159Lockheed Martin spacecraft built for NASA is set for a June 26 launch on a mission to explore the sun’s energy activity and how it affects space weather.

NASA’s interface region imaging spectrograph explorer (IRIS) will go into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and observe the sun continuously for two years, Lockheed said Monday.

“After many months of hard work by the Lockheed Martin team and all of our collaborators and subcontractors in designing, engineering, building and testing the instrument and integrated spacecraft, our goal of putting IRIS into orbit is in sight,” said Gary Kushner, Lockheed’s IRIS program manager.

The craft will follow a sun-synchronous polar orbit and is intended to obtain high-resolution images focused on the chromosphere and the transition region to the outer corona area of the sun.

LockheedLogoLockheed’s space systems unit designed IRIS in partnership with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Stanford University, Montana State University and the University of Oslo.

Dr. Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator and physicist at the ATC Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory said IRIS is intended to make it possible to figure out what scientists don’t know about energy transport on the sun.

“The complex processes and enormous contrasts of density, temperature and magnetic field within this interface region require instrument and modeling capabilities that are now finally within our reach,” he added.

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