A composite image showing the expanded field of view of SoloHI compared to the field of  SECCHI on the STEREO mission.  The Sun is the small light circle inside a red circle.  The black and white inset is an example of a CME propagating outward and blowing off the ion tail of Comet Encke.
A composite image showing the expanded field of view of SoloHI compared to the field of SECCHI on the STEREO mission. The Sun is the small light circle inside a red circle. The black and white inset is an example of a CME propagating outward and blowing off the ion tail of Comet Encke.

Objectives
Advance the understanding of the 3-D structure of the Sun’s corona, the origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), CME propagation through the heliosphere, and the dynamic coupling between CMEs and Earth.
CMEs, the most energetic phenomena in the solar system, are major drivers of geomagnetic space weather storms that adversely affect ISR, precision engagement, missile detection and intercept, Comms on the Move, spacecraft anomaly assessment, orbital tracking, polar flight activities, and the power grid. CMEs were discovered by NRL, with an NRL-built solar coronagraph, in 1971.

Approach
SoloHI: The heliospheric imager for the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter Mission

  • NRL is PI institution for NASA
  • NRL is leading development of the telescope
  • Builds on successful NRL SECCHI heliospheric imager on NASA/STEREO

Solar Orbiter Mission: July 2017 Launch

  • Orbits the Sun from 0.3 to 0.7 AU
  • Inclination of orbital plane relative to the ecliptic plane increases to 35°
  • First mission with imaging and in-situ instruments to go so close to the Sun and the first mission to image the Sun and heliosphere from above the ecliptic plane

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • NRL will deliver the SoloHI instrument to NASA in January 2015; this includes NRL in-house conception and optical design of SoloHI and development of a new Advanced Pixel Sensor which was completed in March 2013, and the instrument electronics control system and software
  • NRL will deliver to NASA and ESA the SoloHI Mission operations and data analysis from on site at NRL-DC. The Solar Orbiter (SO) mission control will be in Europe
  • Oct 2011: ESA selected SO as 1st Cosmic Vision Program mission;
    Sep 2012: SoloHI successfully passed preliminary design review, is currently in Phase C
  • SoloHI will provide unique observations of heliospheric plasmas, determining the 3D electron density and velocity structure of the inner heliosphere and how it propagates to 1 AU