Rotating solar sphere made from a combination of imagery from the two STEREO spacecraft, together with simultaneous data from the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO).
RAL Space has a long heritage of solar space mission involvement, mainly through the development and operation of spectroscopic instrumentation in the extreme-UV and X-ray wavelengths, but also in heliospheric imaging. We use observations of the solar atmosphere to determine its plasma characteristics, study complex processes of energy release in big, violent flares and ubiquitous tiny nanoflares, and track huge mass eruptions all the way from the Sun's corona to beyond the Earth's orbit. Our aim is to understand and predict how the Sun works and affects the solar system and the Earth's environment.
Solar Physics at RAL are currently involved in operating and exploiting the RAL-led Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer (CDS) instrument aboard the biggest solar spacecraft, SOHO, and the RAL-led Heliospheric Imagers aboard the NASA STEREO mission. They are also involved in the operation of instruments aboard the Hinode and Coriolis spacecraft. In addition, we are involved in the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, launched in February 2010, and lead the UK contribution to the SPICE spectrometer on the ESA Solar Orbiter mission, due for launch in 2017. In the past, we had involvement in sub-orbital rocket flights in collaboration with US colleagues, as well as roles in other prominent solar missions such as SMM, Yohkoh and TRACE.
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