Here comes the sun in first-time images

April 3, 2017
solar images

These images of the sun were captured at the same time on Jan. 29 by the six channels on the SUVI instrument on board GOES-16 and show a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Each channel observes the sun at a different wavelength, allowing scientists to detect a wide range of solar phenomena. Credit: NOAA (Download Image)

Here comes the sun in first-time images

Anne M Stark,, 925-422-9799

The first images from the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) instrument aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-16 satellite capture a large coronal hole on the sun.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are part of NOAA's space weather monitoring fleet. GOES-16 launched late last year.

GOES-16 (known as "GOES-R" before its launch) is the latest in the suite of GOES weather forecasting satellites, operated since 1975 by NOAA and NASA. GOES-16 includes six instruments, two of which observe Earth (baseline imager and lightning mapper) and four observe space (magnetometer, Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV)/X-ray irradiance sensor, space environment suite and solar ultraviolet imager (SUVI)).

SUVI records full-disk images at 6 EUV wavelengths every few minutes, where this data is used to better understand the effects of solar-produced EUV radiation on Earth and the near-Earth environments.

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team developed multilayer mirrors for the SUVI instrument aboard GOES-16. LLNL researchers Regina Soufli, Jeff Robinson, Eberhard Spiller, Sherry Baker and Jay Ayers, in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists and vendors RXO LLC, L3 Communications-Tinsley and Lockheed Martin, led the development and calibration of the multi-segmented, multilayer-coated mirrors.

This is the first time six different EUV narrow-band channels have been included on a single mirror (or telescope). Each mirror had to be coated in six different segments, with one segment coated at a time. Despite having six segmented multilayer-coatings, shadowing (due to the mask) is minimized -- thanks to LLNL deposition and masking technologies -- allowing SUVI to exceed its effective area specifications.

Understanding the solar-terrestrial environment and its impact on Earth's global weather and climate is an important problem of modern scientific investigation. Large energetic solar events, such as flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) comprise large energy releases composed of photons and particle masses that also are known to adversely affect Earth and the near-Earth environment, human-engineered assets (e.g., satellites, aircraft, radio communication systems and ground electrical power grids) as well as astronaut safety. This solar output is a strong contributor to the physical processes involved in understanding the nature of space weather and its impact on Earth's weather and climate.

EUV radiation originates in the hot solar photosphere (the sun's surface), chromosphere, transition region and corona (the sun's atmosphere) and is produced by very hot, dynamic, ionized plasma that lies in temperature ranges of up to 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to other solar EUV imaging telescopes currently in space (such as SOHO/EIT, SDO/AIA, and others) SUVI has a larger field of view that will allow observation of larger-scale solar magnetic structures, residing higher into the sun's corona. In addition to the GOES-16 satellite, SUVI mirrors developed by LLNL are scheduled to be installed on three successors of GOES-16, which will be operational through 2036.

This project was sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation.

To see the full article on the SUVI multilayer mirrors, see SPIE.