Lockheed Martin Completes Spacecraft And Science Instrument Integration For NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS)

 Lockheed Martin Completes Spacecraft And Science Instrument Integration For
         NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) Mission

PR Newswire

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 7, 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The spacecraft and science
instrument integration for the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) –
NASA's next Small Explorer (SMEX) Mission – has been completed, and final
testing is underway. IRIS was designed and built at the Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, with support from the
company's Civil Space line of business and major partners Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory, Montana State University and Stanford University.

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for mission
operations and the ground data system. The Norwegian Space Agency will capture
the IRIS data with their antennas in Svalbard, inside the Artic Circle, in
northern Norway. The science data will be managed by the Joint Science
Operations Center of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, run by Stanford and
Lockheed Martin. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.,
oversees the SMEX project.

"The entire IRIS team is enormously pleased that we've reached this crucial
milestone," said Gary Kushner, Lockheed Martin IRIS program manager. "After
many months of hard work by the Lockheed Martin team and all of our
collaborators and subcontractors in designing, engineering and building the
instrument and spacecraft bus, our goal of putting it into orbit is in sight
and we look forward to producing great science at a low cost."

Understanding the interface between the photosphere and corona remains a
fundamental challenge in solar and heliospheric science. The IRIS mission will
open a window of discovery into this crucial region by tracing the flow of
energy and plasma through the chromosphere and transition region into the
corona using spectrometry and imaging. Here  all but a few percent of the
non-radiative energy leaving the Sun is converted to heat and radiation. The
remaining few percent create the corona and solar wind. Magnetic fields and
plasma exert comparable forces in this region, and IRIS is uniquely suited to
provide the observations necessary to pinpoint the physical forces at work in
this little understood piece of real estate near the surface of the Sun.

"The interpretation of the IRIS spectra is a major effort coordinated by the
IRIS Science Team that will utilize the full extent of the power of the most
advanced computational resources in the world. It is this new capability,
along with development of state of the art codes and numerical models by the
University of Oslo that capture the complexities of this region, which make
the IRIS mission possible. Without these important elements we would be unable
to fully interpret the IRIS spectra," said Dr. Alan Title, IRIS principal
investigator and physicist at the ATC Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in
Palo Alto. "With IRIS we have a unique opportunity to provide significant
missing pieces in our understanding of energy transport on the Sun. The
complex processes and enormous contrasts of density, temperature and magnetic
field within this interface region require instrument and modeling
capabilities that are now finally within our reach."

The IRIS observatory, scheduled for launch in April 2013, will fly in a
Sun-synchronous polar orbit for continuous solar observations on a two-year
mission. It will obtain ultraviolet spectra and images with high resolution
(1/3 arcsec) – with a cadence of as little as one second apart – focused on
the chromosphere and the transition region. Spectra will cover temperatures
from 4,500 K to 10^7 K, with images covering temperatures from 4,500 to 65,000
K.

The NASA SMEX Program is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to
space for heliophysics and astrophysics missions using small to mid-sized
spacecraft. The program also seeks to raise public awareness of NASA's space
science missions through educational and public outreach activities.

The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Company (LMSSC) and creates the technology foundation for the
company's business. In addition, the ATC conducts research into understanding
and predicting space weather and the behavior of our Sun, including its
impacts on Earth and climate. It has a five-decade-long heritage of spaceborne
instruments.

LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs and
develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of
advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil
government and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight
systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and
communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and
interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense
systems; and nanotechnology research and development.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a global
security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and
is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture,
integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and
services. The corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

Media Contact: Buddy Nelson, (510) 797-0349; e-mail, buddy.nelson@lmco.com

SOURCE Lockheed Martin

Website: http://www.lockheedmartin.com
 
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