A team of three scientists and engineers from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UK, and the Astronomical Institute of the University of Wroclaw, Poland, are travelling to Libya to observe the total eclipse of the Sun on March 29th 2006. They will be using an instrument designed to understand why the Sun’s outer atmosphere is so hot.
The solar atmosphere or corona, which is normally only visible from the Earth at times of total solar eclipses, has a temperature of 1—2 million degrees Celsius. The corona also emits ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, which has been observed with spacecraft such as the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). But despite more than 60 years of study, the heating mechanism of the corona remains unknown.
The instrument used by the Anglo-Polish team, the Solar Eclipse Coronal Imaging System (SECIS), consists of a double telescope on a driven mount with fast-frame electronic cameras that will form images of the corona during eclipse totality at the rate of 40 frames per second. This is far higher than can be accomplished with spacecraft instrumentation because of telemetry restrictions.
Anita Heward | alfa
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