Solar Physics Projects at MSSL

Past and Present Missions

Since it was formed, the MSSL Solar Group has worked on a number of different solar physics hardware projects, mostly relating to fabricating instruments that work at ultra-violet and X-ray wavelengths.

MSSL's earliest involvement in spaceborne instrumentation came with an experiment on Ariel-I that made the first spectroscopic X-ray observations of solar flares. Other X-ray instruments were later flown on OSO-4 and ESRO-II; an X-ray spectroheliograph was flown on OSO-5 and a Lyman-alpha spectrometer was flown on OSO-6.

More recently, the instruments built include the X-ray Polychromator (XRP) that flew on the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM), the Coronal Helium Abundance Spacelab Experiment (CHASE) which was part of the Spacelab-2 shuttle payload, the Bragg Crystal Spectrometer (BCS) which was on the highly successful Yohkoh mission, and the Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer (CDS), which is on SoHO. We have also provided CCDs for the recent MOSES rocket flight mission, led by Charles Kankelborg of Montana State University.

Future Missions

MSSL is actively involved in developing science and building instruments for future missions such Solar Orbiter, Solar-C and others.


MSSL leads the consortium that built and operates the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) which provides plasma diagnostics in the solar chromosphere, transition region and corona. Hinode was launched on 23 Sep (JST) 2006. See here for details.

MSSL is a co-investigator institute on the Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer (CDS) on SOHO, along with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (the PI institute), Max-Planck-Institut fur extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Oslo, and others. CDS is one of twelve instruments to fly on the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and has two complimentary systems; the Normal Incidence Spectrometer (NIS) and the Grazing Incidence Spectrometer(GIS).

In the CDS project, MSSL is responsible for:

  • The Grazing Incidence detector System (GIS) and associated electronics and software
  • The Command and Data Handling System (CDHS)and software
  • The Experiment Power Supply (EPS)
  • Software for analysis of the GIS data

In the CDS project, MSSL is responsible for:The Grazing Incidence detector System (GIS) and associated electronics and softwareThe Command and Data Handling System (CDHS) and software The Experiment Power Supply (EPS) Software for analysis of the GIS data. Click here for more details.


MOSES is an acronym for the Multi-Order Solar EUV Spectrograph. MSSL is involved in the project in two main ways. 

Firstly, we provided the CCD detectors for this novel mission concept. 

Secondly, we are involved in interpreting the data which MOSES generates. For details of the principle involved, see these earlier pages on data deconvolution.


Solar Orbiter is designed to understand how the Sun influences its environment by the creation and propagation of solar wind into interplanetary space. Solar Orbiter will be close enough to the Sun to sample this solar wind shortly after it has been ejected from the solar surface, while at the same time observing in great detail the process accelerating the wind on the Sun's surface. 

The scientific objectives of Solar Orbiter rely ubiquitously on the Extreme-Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), a suite of imaging telescopes to observe the solar atmosphere. EUI will allow us, on one hand, to determine the global structure of the solar corona and, on the other hand, to provide a crucial understanding of fine scale processes in the dynamic solar atmosphere. Images taken by the Full Sun Imager (FSI) of the EUI suite will offer the indispensable link between the solar surface and the outer corona, which ultimately shapes the characteristics of the interplanetary medium to be sampled in situ by Solar Orbiter. The two High Resolution Imagers (HRIs) will provide a nearly simultaneous view of the solar atmosphere. They will image the upper chromosphere, the quiescent and the active corona, thus providing a comprehensive view of the solar atmosphere dynamics under different conditions, and uniquely at different viewpoints.

The EUI consortium consists of 7 institutes in 5 countries. There are 4 co-PIs (Harra, Appourchaux, Schuehle, Berghmans). The institutes involved are in UK (MSSL), Belgium (CSL (PI Pierre Rochus), ROB), France (IAS, IO), Germany (MPS), Switzerland (PMOD).

The consortium website can be found here.

See Dr Lucie Green's site for more.