The Naval Research Laboratory Solar Physics Branch
This photograph of the sun
was taken using the extreme
ultraviolet radiation from ionized
helium, 304 Angstom wavelength.
It was taken on December 19, 1973
using the Solar Physics Branch's
onboard the Skylab ATM.
The Solar Physics Branch is part of the
Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)
Space Science Divison.
Researchers in the Solar Physics Branch have been involved in observational
and theoretical studies of the solar atmosphere since the early years of the
space age. Experiments developed at NRL have flown on NASA missions
such as Skylab/ATM (see the picture above), the OSO satellite series, the Space Shuttle STS-3,
Spacelab-2 and ATLAS missions.
Active Experimental Programs:
The Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) is an remote sensing imaging instrument aboard the NASA's Solar Probe Plus. Currently scheduled for launch in 2018.
The Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager(SoloHI) is an remote sensing imaging instrument aboard the ESA Solar Orbiter. Currently scheduled for launch in 2017.
The Sun Earth Connection Coronal
and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) is a suite of solar and
heliospheric imagers being prepared by a consortium of institutions with
Dr. Russell A. Howard as the PI. It was launched in October 2006.
NASA STEREO mission STEREO is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes line of
advanced scientific missions
in the Sun Earth Connections theme. STEREO is the first mission dedicated to understanding
the physics associated with the initiation and propagation of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).
SECCHI is being built by institutions from the US, UK, Belgium, France, and Germany.
The EUV Imaging Spectrometer
(EIS) is being prepared by a consortium of institutions led by
Prof J.L. Culhane at the MSSL/UCL in the UK. It will be launched on
Japan's next solar physics mission, Solar-B, currently scheduled for
launch in August 2004.
The Large Angle
Coronagraph-Spectrograph (LASCO) and Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope
(EIT) experiments are two instrument packages aboard the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
(SOHO). SOHO, a joint ESA/NASA mission, was launched on December 2, 1995.
LASCO produces visible light coronal images from its three coronagraphs (C1,
C2, and C3) extending from 1.1 to 32 solar radii. EIT produces ultraviolet
images at various temperatures the solar atmosphere from the chromosphere to
The Very high Angular resolution
ULtraviolet Telescope (VAULT) is a new spectroscpic imaging instrument to replace HRTS. It
collected extremely high resolution images (0.2 arc sec) of the Sun at Lyman-alpha (1216 A)
during its first flight in May 1999 on a suborbital rocket.
Earlier Experimental Programs:
Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM) experiment aboard the
Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) measured the the solar UV
spectral irradiance in the 115-410 nm wavelength range from October 11,
1991 to August 1, 2005.
SUSIM ATLAS instrument flew on five times aboard the
SpaceLab platform aboard the Space Shuttle.
The latter three of these missions were part of the
The experiment measured the UV solar spectral irradiance
from Ly-a to 400 nm.
The High Resolution Telescope and Spectrograph
(HRTS) experiment has collected spectroscopic observations of the Sun while flying on
suborbital rockets since its first flight in 1975.
The Solwind Coronagraph on the P78-1
satellite operated from March 29, 1979 through September 13, 1985.
New Mission Concept:
The Advanced Spectrographic and
Coronagraphic Explorer (ASCE) is a concept for an advanced
coronal observatory which was
selected for a Phase A study by NASA as a
Medium Explorer or MIDEX mission. The
PI of ASCE is John Kohl at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Solar and Astrophysical Database Projects:
- The Space Physics Data System's HRTS/SKYLAB database with solar data from the Solar Physics Branch's spectrograph and spectroheliograph
instruments flown as part of the HRTS , Spacelab 2
and SKYLAB missions. This database is the under sponsorship of NASA's Space Physics Data System.
- The CHIANTI database for the calculation of astrophysical spectra. This database contains the most recent
atomic data for calculating a collisionally dominated spectrum and is maintained by an international consortium of scientists.
Late Breaking News and Other Items of Interest:
You can also visit the
NRL Space Science Division home page.
Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)
4555 Overlook Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20375
Solar Physics Branch / Code 7660
certifying official: Dr. J. Dahlburg, Superintendent, Space Science Division
For more information please send an email to the Solar Physics Branch
US Navy Website
Office of Naval Research