NASA has been working on a lot of projects over the years and one of those projects is the IRIS spacecraft that will be sent into space to study the sun to help scientists learn more about the sun. IRIS stands for Interference Region Imaging Spectrograph and the satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California earlier this week. The spacecraft now begin its final preparations for launch.
NASA says that the IRIS spacecraft will improve our understanding of how heat and energy move in the deepest levels of the sun’s atmosphere. One goal of the IRIS program is to increase our ability to forecast space weather. During solar storms, the sun can discharge powerful waves of radiation and other particles that can interfere with communications on Earth and pose significant health risks to astronauts in space.
IRIS will receive final checkouts by NASA employees and will then be placed inside an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket. NASA expects to launch the rocket holding the spacecraft no earlier than May 28. The deployment of that rocket from the L-1011 carrier aircraft is targeted for 7:27 PM PDT. The carrier aircraft will climb to 39,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg off the central coast of California, south of Big Sur before releasing the Pegasus rocket.
The IRIS spacecraft has a single instrument, which is a multi-channel imaging spectrograph with an ultraviolet telescope. The instrument is designed to give scientists an improved understanding of the physical processes that go on in the sun’s interference region. The spacecraft is capable of taking high-resolution images and information it gathers will be studied intently to help scientists create advanced computer models of how matter, light, and energy move from the suns 6000-degree Kelvin surface to its million-Kelvin Corona.