On July 17, 2013, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, spacecraft opened its spectrographic eyes to gaze at the heretofor unseen lowest layers of the sun’s atmosphere.
IRIS is built to view the Sun’s interface region, a complex area between the photosphere and corona. Understanding the interface region is important because it forms the ultraviolet emission that impacts satellites in near-Earth orbit and the weather. The region also drives solar wind.
IRIS’s instruments are a combination of an ultraviolet telescope and a spectrograph.
Light is split into its component parts. Two of the components are used by IRIS to provide high-resolution images one wavelength of light at a time, the other is the whole spectrum that provides information about many wavelengths of light at once.
The data from IRIS is fed into supercomputers to help interpret the data.
I suppose this puts my 50mm Coronado and PST telescopes to shame, but I still enjoy the view.
Please remember not to look at the Sun without the proper protective eyewear (NOT sunglasses) or through any telescope not designed, or shielded, for solar viewing.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +