NASA's Newest Solar Satellite Arrives at Vandenberg AFB for Launch

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April 17, 2013

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Susan Hendrix
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

RELEASE: 10-13


GREENBELT, Md. -- NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) 
satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 
Tuesday, April 16, to begin its final preparations for launch, 
currently scheduled no earlier than May 28. IRIS will improve our 
understanding of how heat and energy move through the deepest levels 
of the sun's atmosphere, thereby increasing our ability to forecast 
space weather.

Following final checkouts, the IRIS spacecraft will be placed inside 
an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket. Deployment of the Pegasus from 
the L-1011 carrier aircraft is targeted for 7:27 p.m. PDT at an 
altitude of 39,000 feet at a location over the Pacific Ocean about 
100 miles northwest of Vandenberg AFB off the central coast of 
California south of Big Sur.

"IRIS will contribute significantly to our understanding of the 
interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona," said Joe 
Davila, IRIS mission scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 
in Greenbelt, Md. "This region is crucial for understanding how the 
corona gets so hot."

IRIS carries a single instrument, a multichannel imaging spectrograph 
with an ultraviolet (UV) telescope that will help scientists better 
understand the physical processes in the sun's interface region.

"With the high-resolution images from IRIS, scientists will be able to 
use advanced computer models to unravel how matter, light and energy 
move from the sun's 6,000 Kelvin surface to its million Kelvin 
corona," said Eric Ianson, IRIS mission manager at NASA Goddard. 
"Scientists will be able to combine data from NASA's IRIS and Solar 
Dynamics Observatory and the NASA/JAXA Hinode missions to obtain a 
more comprehensive understanding of the sun's atmosphere."

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer mission. The program provides frequent 
flight opportunities for world-class scientific investigations from 
space using innovative, streamlined and efficient management 
approaches within the heliophysics and astrophysics areas.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is 
responsible for launch management. Lockheed Martin's Advanced 
Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, 
Calif., designed and built the IRIS spacecraft and instrument. NASA's 
Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for 
mission operations and ground data systems.

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit:  


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