31 October 2006
The sun-observing satellite Hinode - formerly known as Solar-B - has entered sun-synchronous orbit and all its instruments, including the UCL-built EUV Imaging Spectrometer, are fully operational.
The orbit allows Hinode to observe the sun for uninterrupted periods lasting months at a time. The spacecraft contains three instruments dedicated to observing the sun: the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT), the X-Ray Telescope (XRT), and the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), built by specialists at the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL). Each of the instruments have now opened their protective doors and successfully commenced test observations.
EIS opened its door on 28 October 2006 and immediately began taking spectroscopic imaging data, allowing project scientists to verify that it is operating properly. This instrument takes spectroscopic images using either a spectroscopic slit or a wider 'slot'.
Data from EIS consists of mixed positional and wavelength information. This raw data is analysed and turned into spectral imaging information.
The scientific observation phase of the mission is expected to start early in November 2006, when a summary of initial scientific findings obtained from the test images will also be released.
Image: A preliminary spectral image from Hinode's EIS