(PressMediaWire) PALO ALTO, Calif., , November 15th, 2007 -- The
Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), an instrument for NASA’s Solar
Dynamics Observatory (SDO), has been delivered to NASA’s
GoddardSpacecraft Centerfor integration on SDO, which is scheduled to launch in December 2008.
HMI was designed in collaboration with Professor Philip Scherrer, HMI
Principal Investigator, and other scientists at Stanford University.
The instrument was built at the Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory of
the Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in
"HMI combined with our partner instruments on SDO – the Atmospheric
Imaging Assembly and the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment –
will provide us with the data needed to first learn if predictions of
solar activity are possible,” said Professor Scherrer. “Then, if we and
our colleagues in the solar physics community are clever enough, we’ll
actually develop forecast methods. This is an exciting time for
studying the Sun and its impact on the Earth."
The primary goal of the HMI investigation on SDO is to study the origin
of solar variability and to characterize and understand the Sun’s
interior and magnetic activity. Because of the turbulence in the
convection zone near the surface, the Sun is figuratively ringing like
a bell. By studying these oscillations of the visible surface of the
Sun, considerable insight can be gained into the processes inside. In
effect the solar turbulence is analogous to earthquakes. In manner
similar to how seismologists can learn about the interior of the Earth
by studying the waves generated in an earthquake. HMI’s
helioseismologists will learn about the structure, temperature and
flows in the solar interior.
“This is a very satisfying milestone for us, as the delivery of HMI for
mounting on the SDO spacecraft brings us a big step closer to having
this spectacular instrument in space watching the Sun,” said solar
physicist – and co-investigator on HMI – Dr. Alan Title of the ATC.
“HMI will provide us with sonograms of the Sun that will show us
sunspots and magnetic fields before they appear on the visible surface.
We’ll even be able to see through the Sun and be aware of the birth of
spots on the side facing away from us, allowing us to be ready for them
as they rotate into our view. Moreover, HMI’s high spatial resolution
and full-Sun coverage will give us much more time to study magnetic
field evolution in detail.”
HMI will produce data necessary to determine the interior sources and
mechanisms of solar variability and how the physical processes inside
the Sun are related to surface magnetic field and activity. Because HMI
can measure the strength and direction of the magnetic field on the
surface, more precise estimates of the coronal magnetic field are
possible. In addition, HMI observations will clarify the
relationships between internal solar dynamics and magnetic activity,
providing a better understanding of solar variability and its effects.
The knowledge gained will enable a major advance in the development of
a reliable predictive capability for solar flares and coronal mass
ejections. The prediction of these violent solar events, how they
travel through the solar system and where they are likely to impact is
one of the key elements of the NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) program.
It is also of critical importance to the NASA Vision for Space
Exploration, and a human presence on the Moon.
The goal of SDO is to understand – striving towards a predictive
capability – the solar variations that influence life on Earth and
humanity’s technological systems. The mission seeks to determine how
the Sun’s magnetic field is generated and structured, and how this
stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere
and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and
variations in the solar irradiance.
The SDO spacecraft will also be a flagship in the Heliophysics Great
Observatory, a series of missions designed to monitor the Sun and the
heliosphere. As humans venture outward from Earth to the Moon, Mars and
beyond their safety depends upon, at least in part, an ability to
forecast energetic events on the Sun. Because both people and planets
constantly move with respect to the Sun, it is also essential to
understand how the energy released by these solar events
travels through the heliosphere in order to properly access the impact
on space travelers wherever they may be in the solar system.
The Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory at the ATC has a 44-year-long
heritage of spaceborne solar instruments including the Soft X-ray
Telescope on the Japanese Yohkoh satellite, the Michelson Doppler
Imager on the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the solar
telescope on NASA’s Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, the Solar
X-ray Imager on the GOES-N environmental satellite, the Focal Plane
Package on Hinode and an Extreme Ultraviolet Imager on each of the two
spacecraft in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory. The
laboratory also conducts basic research into understanding and
predicting space weather and the behavior of the Sun including its
impacts on Earth and climate.
The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC). LMSSC,
a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs,
develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of
advanced-technology systems for national security, civil and commercial
customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full
range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications
satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary
spacecraft; laser radar; fleet ballistic missiles; and missile defense
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000
people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design,
development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced
technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported
2006 sales of $39.6 billion.
Buddy Nelson, (510) 797-0349; e-mail, email@example.com
For additional information about Lockheed Martin, visit our website: http://www.lockheedmartin.com
For more information on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, visit: