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Missions to study the Sun

Active missions: Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)Global Geospace Geoscience (GGS) WINDHinode (Sunrise)PICARDReuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI)Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO)Solar Monitoring Observatory (SOLAR/SMO)

Future missions: DSCOVRAditya-1 - Solar Probe Plus - Solar Orbiter - Solar Sentinels

Active Missions

Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)
Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)

Launch: August 5, 1997
Orbit: Near L1 Lagrange point

ACE observes energetic solar, interplanetary, interstellar, and galactic particles. Near real-time data from the spacecraft are used by the Space Prediction Weather Center to provide one-hour warnings of approaching geomagnetic storms.

Links: NASA - Caltech - Wikipedia

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Global Geospace Geoscience (GGS) WIND
Global Geospace Geoscience (GGS) WIND

Launch: November 1, 1994
Orbit: Near L1 Lagrange point

GGS WIND measures solar wind and energetic particles emenating from the Sun. It is also creating baseline data for the upcoming Solar Probe+ and Solar Orbiter missions, and supplements data from the STEREO missions.

Links: NASA - GSFC - Wikipedia

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Hinode (Sunrise)
Hinode (Sunrise)

Launch: September 22, 2006
Orbit: LEO, polar, sun-syncrhonous 98 degrees, 700 km altitude.

Hinode is the Japanese word for sunrise. It is a joint mission between JAXA, NASA and the ESA to study the sun's magnetic cycles.

Links: NASA - MSFC - NAOJ - ESA

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PICARD spacecraft
PICARD

Launch: June 15, 2010
Orbit: LEO, polar, sun-syncrhonous 98 degrees, 700 km altitude

PICARD takes simultaneous measurements of the Sun's irraadiance, solar flares, magnetic fields and diameter/shape, studying the link between solar cycles and temeperature changes on earth.  It is a sponsored by CNES, the French space agency.

Links: CNES - CNES - Wikipedia

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Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI)
Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI)

Launch: February 5, 2002
Orbit: LEO, 38 degrees, 600 km altitude

RHESSI explores the particle physics behind solar flares. It is a small explorer mission (SMEX) in the original American Explorer line of spacecraft.

Links: GSFC - Wikipedia

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Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)

Launch: December 2, 1995
Orbit: L1 Lagrange point

SOHO studies the sun from core to outer corona, and has inadvertently discovered over 2,000 comets due to the coronagraph its uses to block out the sun’s direct glare.

Links: NASA - ESA - Wikipedia

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

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Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

Launch: November 2, 2011
Orbit: Geosynchronous, 102 degrees W

SDO records the Sun's dynamic solar activity to understand how it affects life on Earth.

Links: NASA - Wikipedia

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Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO)
Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO)

Launch: October 26, 2006
Orbit: Sun-centric, approximately 1 AU

NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft provide stereoscopic views of the sun to better understand coronal mass ejections.

Links: NASA - JPL/APU - Wikipedia

Solar Monitoring Observatory (SOLAR/SMO)

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Solar Monitoring Observatory (SOLAR/SMO)

Launch: 7 February 2008
Orbit: LEO 51.6 degrees, 400 kilometers

SOLAR is mounted on the Columbus module of the International Space Station. It measures the irradiance received from the sun, contributing to solar and stellar physics research, as well as improving atmoshperic modeling, atmospheric chemistry and climatology models.

Links: NASA

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Future Missions

DSCOVR

Launch: January 23, 2015 (planned)

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will maintain real-time solar wind monitoring capabilites critical to the accuracy and lead time of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s space weather alerts and forecasts.

Links: NOAA - Wikipedia

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Aditya-1

Launch: Planned for 2015–2016

Aditya, translated as "Sun," will be launched by the Indian Space Agency (ISRO) to study the Sun's coronal mass ejections and magnetic field structures.

Links: ISRO - Wikipedia

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Solar Orbiter

Launch: Planned for 2017
Orbit: Sun-centric 25 degrees solar inclination, 0.28 AU

Solar Orbiter is an ESA mission to study how the Sun creates and control its heliosphere. The mission will fly as close as 0.28 AU to capture its measurements.

Links: ESA - Wikipedia

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Solar Probe Plus

Launch: Planned for 2018
Orbit: Sun-centric 3.4 degrees solar inclination, 8.5 solar radii (final orbit)

Solar Probe Plus will approach the Sun from a distance of 8.5 solar radii to take direct measurements of the particles and energy emenating from the Sun's corona.

Links: GSFC - JHU - Wikipedia

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Solar Sentinels

A group of six spacecraft that will study the sun during solar maximum, researching energetic particles, coronal mass ejections and interplanetary shocks in the inner heliosphere. Data will be used to forecast space weather for future human spaceflight missions.

Links: NASA - Wikiepdia

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