A NASA spacecraft carrying a Lockheed Martin-made sun-observing instrument has arrived at its launch site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. and will go into space at a date not before May 28.
The interface region imaging spectrograph program aims to study energy and plasma movement near the sun’s surface and help scientists predict space weather. the company said Wednesday.
IRIS will fly in a polar orbit at a fixed orientation to the sun and data from continuous solar observations for two years, Lockheed said.
“With IRIS, we have a unique opportunity to provide significant missing pieces in our understanding of energy transport on the sun,“ said Dr. Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator and physicist at the ATC Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif.
“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.
Lockheed designed, built and tested the spacecraft at its advanced technology center in California in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Stanford University, Montana State University and the University of Oslo.