This Week in Space! December 1, 1995 – NASA’s SOHO Mission

This Week in Space! December 1, 1995 – NASA’s SOHO Mission

This Week in Space! December 1, 1995 – NASA’s SOHO Mission

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Featured image courtesy NASA/JPL

By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor of In Military, InCyberDefense and In Space News.

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.

NASA SOHO Fact Sheet (PDF)

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:

  1. Investigate the outer layer of the sun, which consists of the chromosphere, transition region, and the corona.
  2. 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.)
  3. Probe the interior structure of the sun.
Courtesy NASA/JPL. Animation of Solar and Heliospheric Observatory’s trajectory – Equatorial view

NASA has made available to the public some beautiful, high-resolution images in its SOHO archive. Mission control is based at Goddard Space Flight Center in suburban Maryland.

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.

Courtesy NASA/JPL