Lockheed Solar Observation Spacecraft Lifts Off; Kenneth Washington Comments

Lockheed photo
Lockheed photo

A Lockheed Martin-spacecraft launched into space Thursday night for a two-year mission to survey the sun.

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph aims to help scientists study and analyze impacts of solar activity to the Earth and man-made objects in outer space, Lockheed said Thursday.

Lockheed’s space systems business worked with several educational institutions to co-develop the instrument, which will work to help determine potential threats against communication and navigational satellites and to forecast space weather.

“IRIS is the latest in a five decade heritage of sensing payloads which, cumulatively, have operated for over 800 years in space,” said Dr. Kenneth Washington, vice president of Lockheed’s advanced technology center.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Montana State University, Stanford University and the University of Oslo helped build the IRIS.

IRIS will also work to track the flow of energy and plasma through a region between the sun’s surface and corona, where many ultraviolet emissions are generated from.

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