NASA’s Hi-C launches to study Sun’s corona

The precision instrument flew aboard a Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Hi-C
Hi-C

In the aim of studying the sun, NASA and its partners launched a rocket-borne camera to the edge of space. The camera named High-Resolution Coronal Imager or Hi-C for short flew aboard a Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The launching took place at 2:54 p.m. EST May 29, 2018. Hi-C will provide high clarity images and their study will provide clues to one of the biggest questions in heliophysics – why the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than its surface.

The High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, launches aboard a Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Credits: NASA NASA and its partners launched a rocket-borne camera to the edge of space at 2:54 p.m. EST May 29, 2018, on its third flight to study the Sun. The clarity of images returned is unprecedented and their analysis will provide scientists around the world with clues to one of the biggest questions in heliophysics – why the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than its surface.
The High-Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, launches aboard a Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Credits: NASA

The telescope on Hi-C, weighing 464 pounds and measuring 10-feet long will observe a large, active region in the Sun’s corona in fine detail. In addition, the Hi-C is co-ordinated with the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph or IRIS for short, a NASA small explorer satellite observatory that captures images and spectra of the cooler portions of the sun’s atmosphere.

According to scientists, the analysis of the imaging data from Hi-C’s third flight will help resolve current questions about connections between the hot and cool regions of the solar atmosphere.

Amy Winebarger, principal investigator for the Hi-C mission at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama said, “This was the third launch of Hi-C. Our second launch in 2016 had an issue with the camera on-board the telescope of the instrument. So, while we gathered critical engineering data and some images, we did not get the high-quality images of the corona we were expecting. We improved the camera from the last launch and are already getting exciting data from Tuesday’s experiment that could help explain the long-held questions about the Sun’s atmosphere.”

Winebarger said, “Understanding how the Sun works is important to everyday things we do on Earth. Solar flares and eruptions can disrupt radio, GPS communications, and satellites that disseminate cell phone signals. By studying how the Sun releases these bursts of energy, we hope to be able to better anticipate them and, in the future, design technology better equipped to withstand these disruptions.”