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Agreement concerning the calibration of the solar spectrograph SPICE of the Solar Orbiter Mission


Courtesy MPS

In the past years, PTB calibrated a series of telescope systems for solar observation and atmospheric research using synchrotron radiation in the UV and the VUV spectral ranges. Hereby, either individual components or the full systems were characterized by means of specially developed transfer radiation sources. Within the scope of a research cooperation which has recently been concluded with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and in cooperation with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in England, it is planned to calibrate the spectrograph SPICE of the Solar Orbiter Mission as an entire device in such a way that it is traceable to the primary source standard Metrology Light Source (MLS).

For this purpose, the spectrograph for the "SPectral Imaging of Coronal Environment" (SPICE) will be calibrated in a large vacuum tank, which has recently been commissioned, under thermal conditions such as those prevailing during the space mission; this time it will be calibrated radiometrically, directly with the calculable synchrotron radiation of the MLS in the spectral range from approx. 50 nm to 105 nm. First measurements on the so-called "Engineering Model" are planned in February 2014. The calibration of the actual flying model is planned for the end of 2014.

The Solar Orbiter Mission is planned to be launched in January 2017. After approx. 3 years in flight, the satellite is supposed to approach the Sun up to a distance of less than 30 % of the distance between the Sun and the Earth. Its orbit will have to shift far outside the trajectory plane of the planets to enable a better observation of the solar poles. Besides SPICE, numerous observation instruments will be on board to enable exhaustive and simultaneous scientific investigations of the Sun.


R. Klein, 7.14, e-mail: Roman.Klein(at)ptb.de