The scientific solar platform, SOLAR
The SOLAR platform, which is mounted on the outside of the European Columbus module of the International Space Station, is located in space since February 2008. The SOLAR-platform houses three instruments that observe the Sun. The Belgian User Support and Operation Center, B.USOC, is responsible for the operations of the SOLAR platform.
Although the SOLAR mission officially ended in 2017, it has still not disclosed all of its secrets, and today, many scientists, including a team from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, are working on the data processing.
The data from the instruments serve two main purposes. The first is of course the study of the Sun itself. Scientists refine the models for the composition, the temperature and the density of the solar atmosphere, and their variations over time. Continuous observations of the Sun are necessary to verify these models with reality.
On the other hand, there are also terrestrial applications. Knowing that the Sun is our main source of energy, it is important to have data for models describing the Earth’s atmosphere. By combining both objectives, SOLAR is one of the few current experiments that contribute to the study of both Earth and space.
Visit inside the International Space Station
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