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Stanford SOLAR Center-- Solar Spacecraft and Telescopes

Solar Spacecraft and Telescopes

Hinode (Solar-B)

Artist Concept of Solar-BHinode (Sunrise) is a project to study the Sun, led by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in collaboration with NASA, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), and the European Space Agency (ESA). Hinode's three year mission is to explore the magnetic fields of the Sun, and improve our understanding of the mechanisms that power the solar atmosphere and drive solar eruptions.

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory)

Artist's concept showing a coronal mass ejection (CME) sweeping past STEREO.STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission will provide a unique and revolutionary view of the Sun-Earth System. The two nearly identical observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind – will trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth as well as reveal the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections and help us understand why they happen.

SDO SDO -- The Solar Dynamics Observatory

SDO is the follow-one to great SOHO solar observatory. Launched on February 11, 2010, the 3 instruments on SDO hope to study and gauge the dynamic processes that influence space weather phenomena.

SOHO -- The SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory

This magnificent spacecraft observatory was launched in late 1995: SOHO, developed jointly by NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency) contains 12 separate instruments designed to study the internal structure of the Sun, its extensive outer atmosphere, and the origin of the solar wind, that stream of highly ionized gas that blows continuously outward through our solar system.

SOHO rivals the Hubble Space Telescope in complexity, and very nearly in cost. However, unlike the HST, SOHO orbits the Sun, coasting along 1,000,000 miles from Earth, about 4 times as far from us as the Moon. Because the Sun never sets on SOHO, the observatory can give us our first long term, uninterrupted view of the Sun, unplagued by solar astronomers' nemesis -- the night.

SOHO will help us to understand the interactions between the Sun and the Earth's environment better than has ever been possible. Its legacy may enable scientists to solve some of the most perplexing riddles about the Sun, including the heating of the solar corona, the acceleration of the solar wind, and the physical conditions of the solar interior.

Instruments on SOHO provide most of the data and images for our SOLAR Center website.

The Yohkoh X-ray Satellite
The Yohkoh satellite, now lost, orbited high above the Earth for nine years exploring the Sun in X-rays. The dazzling red and yellow images it produced helped the world see the Sun as the variable and dynamic star it is!

solar oscillation modes Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG)

Another way to obtain 24-hour-a-day coverage of the Sun is to set up a network of sites around the Earth, each taking its turn at observations during the local daylight. The GONG Project is such a network -- a community-based program of six telescopes located at strategic points around the Earth. GONG is conducting detailed studies of the solar internal structure and dynamics.

The Wilcox Solar Observatory

Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory began measuring the Sun's global magnetic field in May 1975, to understand changes in the Sun and how those changes affect the Earth. Now low-resolution maps are also made of the Sun's magnetic field each day, as are observations of solar surface motions. The observatory is located in the foothills just west of the Stanford University campus.
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