NASA IRIS Observatory -- Designed And Built By Lockheed Martin -- Sees First Light

 NASA IRIS Observatory -- Designed And Built By Lockheed Martin -- Sees First
                                    Light

PR Newswire

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 25, 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --The Interface Region Imaging
Spectrograph (IRIS) observatory, designed and built by Lockheed Martin
[NYSE:LMT] for NASA, has produced its first images and spectra of a little
understood region of the sun through which the energy that supports the Sun's
hot corona is transported. IRIS was launched on June 27, 2013, and the front
door of the IRIS telescope was opened on July 17.

"The quality of images and spectra we are receiving from IRIS is amazing. This
is just what we were hoping for," said Dr. Alan Title, IRIS principal
investigator and physicist at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center
(ATC) Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif. "There is much
work ahead to understand what we're seeing, but the quality of the data will
enable us to do that."

The IRIS mission has long-term implications for understanding the genesis of
solar storms. By tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the interface
region – between the solar surface and the solar corona – where most of the
sun's ultraviolet emissions are generated, IRIS data will allow scientists to
study and model a region of the sun that has yet to reveal its secrets.

"With IRIS, we now have a unique opportunity to provide significant missing
pieces in our understanding of energy transport on the sun," said Dr. Alan
Title, IRIS principal investigator and physicist at the Lockheed Martin
Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo
Alto, Calif. "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 reach."

The evolution of IRIS from concept to space-based solar observatory was
remarkably rapid. The contract was awarded to the Lockheed Martin-led IRIS
team on June 23, 2009. Four years and four days later, IRIS was in orbit. Just
20 days after launch, engineers in the IRIS Mission Operations Center at
NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., downlinked the initial
images.

"The IRIS mission has been, from inception, an enormous international
collaborative development effort," said Title. "Our IRIS team was formed to
design the mission and prepare the initial proposal. We have worked together
seamlessly ever since."

The IRIS Observatory was designed and the mission managed by the Lockheed
Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory of the Advanced Technology Center in
Palo Alto, with contributions from LM Civil Space. The IRIS instrument was
integrated to the spacecraft, and observatory testing was performed by an
integrated team of engineers from the ATC and Civil Space at the LM Space
Systems Sunnyvale facility. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
built the telescope.

In parallel with payload development, there was international collaboration in
calculating enormous numerical simulations of the interface region, mostly
using models from the University of Oslo. These simulations are key to
interpreting the IRIS observations. The University of Oslo and Lockheed Martin
also worked together in creating tools for execution of the science mission,
enabling scientists to plan observations on the complex and flexible IRIS
instrument more easily. Kongsberg Satellite Service under an ESA PRODEX
contract with the Norwegian Space Centre captures IRIS data with their
antennas in Svalbard, inside the Arctic Circle, in northern Norway.

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for mission
operations and the ground data system. The Ames Pleiades supercomputer was
used to carry out many of the numerical simulations. IRIS science data is
managed by the Joint Science Operations Center of the Solar Dynamics
Observatory (SDO) – run by Stanford and Lockheed Martin – where scientists
can use the same set of tools to access data from IRIS, SDO and Hinode
instruments. Montana State University faculty and students assisted in the
design of the spectrograph and are involved in IRIS science operations and
data analysis. NASA's Kennedy Space Center acquired the Orbital Sciences Corp.
Pegasus launch vehicle and managed the Vandenberg launch. NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., oversees the Small Explorers program.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, a major operating unit of Lockheed
Martin Corporation, designs, 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 is a global security and
aerospace company that employs about 116,000 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 2012 were $47.2 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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