This Week in Space! December 1, 1995 – NASA’s SOHO Mission
Featured image courtesy NASA/JPL
This week in December 1995, NASA launched the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission to better study the sun’s outer corona, solar wind, and even its deep core.
Conceived as an international cooperation project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, the SOHO mission was launched on December 2, 1995, on an Atlas II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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According to NASA, SOHO’s primary objectives were to:
- Investigate the outer layer of the sun, which consists of the chromosphere, transition region, and the corona.
- Make observations of solar wind and associated phenomena in the vicinity of L1. (Note: In celestial mechanics, Lagrangian points are the points near two large bodies in orbit where a smaller object will maintain its position relative to the large orbiting bodies.)
- Probe the interior structure of the sun.
Perhaps most important, SOHO helps scientists predict space weather events like solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can wreak havoc on terrestrial electronics equipment and satellites.