Solar Maximum Mission


Solar Maximum Mission

The Solar Maximum Mission satellite (or SolarMax) was designed to investigate solar phenomenon, particularly solar flares. It was launched on February 14, 1980.

Whilst not unique in this endeavour, the SMM was notable in that its useful life compared with similar spacecraft was significantly increased by the direct intervention of a manned space mission. In 1984 the Space Shuttle Challenger intercepted it, maneuvering the SMM into the shuttle's payload bay for maintenance and repairs. SMM had been fitted with a shuttle "grapple fixture" so that the shuttle's robot arm could grab it in anticipation of possible repairs. The mission is depicted in the 1985 IMAX movie The Dream Is Alive.

Significantly, the SMM's ACRIM instrument package showed that, contrary to expectations, the Sun is actually brighter during the sunspot cycle maximum (when the greatest number of dark 'sunspots' appear). This is because sunspots are surrounded by bright features called faculae, which more than cancel the darkening effect of the sunspot.

The Solar Maximum Mission ended on December 2 1989 when the spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.

The major scientific findings from SMM are presented in several review articles in the Monograph edited by Strong et al. (1999).

* Strong, Keith T.; Saba, Julia L. R.; Haisch, Bernhard M.; Schmelz, Joan T. (1999) The many faces of the sun : a summary of the results from NASA's Solar Maximum Mission. Springer

ee also

*Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

External links

* [http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/heasarc/missions/solarmax.html HEASARC] , SMM
* [http://leonardo.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/QuickLooks/smmQL.html JPL] , SMM
* [http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/SMM.shtml Marshall Space Flight Center] , SMM
* [http://smm.hao.ucar.edu/smm/smmcp_cme.html SMM C/P Coronal Mass Ejections]
* [http://www.suntrek.org Sun|trek website] An educational resource for teachers and students about the Sun and its effect on the Earth


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