Magnetic fields, and the intense magnetic energy they help marshal, lie at the heart of how the sun can create huge explosions of light such as solar flares and eruptions of particles such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). While there are already instruments – both on the ground and flying in space – that can measure these fields, each is constrained to observe the fields on a particular layer of the sun's surface or atmosphere. Moreover, none of them can see the layer SUMI will observe.
SUMI’s instruments are designed to study magnetic fields of the sun’s chromosphere -- a thin layer of solar atmosphere sandwiched between the visible surface, photosphere and its atmosphere, the corona. Hinode, a collaborative mission of the space agencies of Japan, the United States, United Kingdom and Europe, captured these very dynamic pictures of our sun's chromosphere on Jan. 12, 2007. Image credit: JAXA/NASA
"What's novel with this instrument is that it observes ultraviolet light, when all the others look at infrared or visible light," says Jonathan Cirtain, a solar scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. and the principal investigator for SUMI. "Those wavelengths of light correspond to the lowest levels in the sun's atmosphere, but SUMI will look at locations higher in the chromosphere."
This higher layer of the chromosphere is known as the transition region – because the chromosphere transitions here into the part of the sun's atmosphere called the corona -- and it is a region that is dominated by the magnetic fields and in which solar material heats up dramatically forming the corona and the base of the solar wind. Understanding the structure of the magnetic fields in this region will then allow us to understand how the corona is heated and how the solar wind is formed. It is also an area believed to be where flare accelerated particles originate, so understanding the processes at play in the transition region can help with models to predict such eruptions on the sun.
To measure magnetic fields in the chromosphere, SUMI will observe the ultraviolet (UV) light emitted from two types of atoms on the sun, Magnesium 2 and Carbon 4. Through established methods of measuring how the light is affected as it travels through the magnetic environment of the solar atmosphere towards Earth, scientists can measure the original strength and direction of the magnetic fields, thus creating a three-dimensional magnetic map of the region.
This trip for SUMI is largely a test flight to make sure the instrument works and to assess possible improvements. The instrument flew once before in July 2010 but experienced a much higher G-force than expected, which broke screws holding the main mirror in place so it could not gather accurate data. The team has now reinforced the mirror.
"With the knowledge we get from a successful SUMI mission, we can go on to build space-based instrumentation that will help us understand the processes that form flares and CME's and help us predict space weather," says Cirtain.
SUMI will launch from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on a Black Brant rocket. The flight will last about eight minutes total.Karen C. Fox
Karen Fox | EurekAlert!
APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences