Hinode first light

The Sun in X-rays
High resolution image of the Sun taken by the X-ray Telescope on Hinode CREDIT: JAXA
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tend to give their spacecraft new names once they begin their missions. So, Solar-B - the mission to study the Sun that was launched in September - has now been renamed Hinode which is Japanese for sunrise. The mission's three telescopes (the Solar Optical Telescope, the EUV Imaging Spectrometer and the X-Ray Telescope) have all seen first light and the first image from the XRT is to the right.

For the next month, tests will be performed to check that everything is working properly and, assuming it is, the science mission will begin in December. Currently the SOT is getting a resolution of 0.2 arcseconds and the XRT is reaching about 1 arcsecond.

Hinode is a collaboration between JAXA, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), NASA and the UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council. Go to the JAXA press release for more first-light images and Science@NASA for a podcast about Hinode.

With the successful launch of STEREO last month, it looks like an exciting time for studies of the Sun.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Friday 03rd Nov 2006 (10:57 GMT) | Permalink
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