Seeing the Sun with New Eyes: Enabling the 3rd Science flight of the SUNRISE Investigation

Metadata Updated: February 28, 2019

Summary SUNRISE is a balloon-borne solar observatory dedicated to the investigation of the physics governing the evolution of the magnetic field and the convective plasma flows in the lower solar atmosphere. These processes are crucial for our understanding of the magnetic activity of the Sun and of the outward transport of energy to heat its outer atmosphere and to fuel the eruptions and coronal mass ejections, i.e. phenomena that drive Space Weather. The SUNRISE observatory is designed for operation in the stratosphere (at heights around 36 km) to avoid the image degradation due to turbulence in the Earth’s lower atmosphere and to gain access to the UV wavelengths down to 200nm. A 1-m-diameter telescope (the largest solar telescope flown to-date) feeds an UV imager and an imaging filter magnetograph. SUNRISE was flown twice, in June 2009 and June 2013, during periods of very low and high solar activity, respectively and the observations resulted in over 60 peer-reviewed publications so far. The 3rd flight, proposed here, will include substantial improvements in the SUNRISE instrumentation, a new highly stable gondola, and a set of strong science objectives to address all three of NASA’s Heliophysics Science Goals in the 2014 Science Plan.

Objectives The first two science flights of SUNRISE have been highly successful. However, these results have been mainly restricted to the solar photosphere and beg the question of what influence the dynamical and magnetic phenomena studied in the earlier SUNRISE flights have on the higher atmosphere, in particular the chromosphere. This will change with the third SUNRISE flight, which will carry instruments to sample the chromosphere in a multitude of spectral lines over a broad wavelength range (300 – 860 nm). The investigation will focus on the following science objectives:

• What is the structure of the chromospheric magnetic field in different types of solar regions? How well is this magnetic structure reproduced by force-free extrapolations from the photosphere? • Which is more important for heating the Sun's upper atmosphere, field line braiding or (magnetohydrodynamic) wave flux? • How is magnetic flux removed from the surface of the Sun? How important is magnetic reconnection in this respect?

Methodology For its third flight, SUNRISE will carry two new instruments and a major upgrade of one of its current instruments. The new instruments are a novel UV spectropolarimeter (to be built by MPS) to explore and exploit the exciting but, due to its poor accessibility from the ground, very poorly studied spectral range between 300 and 420 nm and a visible-infrared spectropolarimeter to be built jointly by NAOJ and ISAS in Japan, MPS and IAA in Spain. The imaging magnetograph, IMAX, will be upgraded to greatly increase its speed and to allow it to access multiple spectral lines (compared with a single one so far). The balloon will be launched from ESRANGE Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden with expected flight duration of 7 days around the summer solstice in 2020. The mission is a collaboration between APL, (USA), MPS (Germany), NAOJ (Japan) and IAA (Spain).

This proposal will fund the USA contribution to the Sunrise collaboration. This contribution includes: building and flying the stable observing platform (the gondola and all its subsystems), provide coordination for a joint observing campaign with the 4-m aperture DKIST ground based solar telescope, and the USA participation in science objectives definitions and observations planning, as well as post flight data analysis, interpretation, and results publications.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: U.S. Government Work

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Metadata Created Date February 28, 2019
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019

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Harvested from NASA Data.json

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date February 28, 2019
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
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Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2022-01-01
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Data Last Modified 2018-09-07
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