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A new look at the secrets of the sun

This image from the joint NASA-Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode mission shows the lower regions of the sun’s atmosphere, the interface region. Credit: NASA&JAXA/Hinode

This image from the joint NASA-Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode mission shows the lower regions of the sun’s atmosphere, the interface region. Credit: NASA&JAXA/Hinode


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Friday, June 7, 2013, 12:16 - NASA's new IRIS probe will chart the mysteries of the sun's "interface layer."

NASA plans to launch a new probe to study a little-known layer of the sun, a move the space agency says will make it easier to predict solar flares.


The Interface Region Imaging Spectograph, or IRIS, will focus on the sun's "interface layer," just above the solar surface.

"Understanding the interface region better improves our understanding of the whole corona and, in turn, how it affects the solar system," IRIS project scientist Joe Davila said in a statement.

It's a very small and thin section of the sun's "atmosphere," only 10,000 kilometres at its thickest.

But despite the staggering amounts of energy it absorbs, only a small amount leaks through.

What does come through are the UV emissions, which impact earth's weather and climate.

Unlocking the interface layer's secrets will help scientists understand the sun's corona -- the source of mass ejections and solar flares that can disrupt Earth's power grid and communications.

NASA plans to launch the IRIS satellite at the end of the month.

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