Hinode’s First Light…and 5 More Years


Credit: Hinode, JAXA/NASA

Credit: Hinode, JAXA/NASA

On October 28, 2006, the Hinode solar mission was at last ready. The spacecraft launched on September 22, but such missions require a handful of diagnostics before the instruments can be turned on and collect what is called “first light.”

Hopes were high. Hinode had the potential to provide some of the highest resolution images of the sun the world had ever seen — as well as help solve such mysteries as why the sun’s atmosphere is a thousand times hotter than its surface and how the magnetic fields roiling through the sun create dramatic explosions able to send energy to the farthest reaches of the solar system.

The X-ray telescope (XRT) began taking images on October 23, the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) opened its front door on October 25, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) started collecting spectroscopic images on October 28.

The images were beautiful, the data good; first light science had been achieved.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hinode/news/five-years.html

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