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Photos: NASA's IRIS Sun Observatory Mission in Space

IRIS Illustration

NASA/LMSAL

An artist rendition of the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun's lower atmosphere.

Layers of the Sun

National Solar Observatory

This graphic shows a model of the layers of the Sun, with approximate mileage ranges for each layer: for the inner layers, the mileage is from the sun's core; for the outer layers, the mileage is from the sun's surface. The inner layers are the Core, Radiative Zone and Convection Zone. The outer layers are the Photosphere, the Chromosphere, the Transition Region and the Corona. IRIS will focus its investigation on the Chromosphere and Transition Region.

Fairing Installation

NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB

Engineers move the payload fairing into place for NASA's IRIS spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit. This image was released may 31, 2013.

Fairing Installation: Starboard Side Prep

NASA/Randy Beaudoin

Engineers make preparations on the starboard side of the payload fairing before it is connected into place for NASA's IRIS spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit in June. The work is taking place in a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base where IRIS is being prepared for launch on a Pegasus XL rocket. This image was released June 5, 2013.

Blacklight Check

NASA/Randy Beaudoin

Engineers inspect NASA's IRIS spacecraft with blacklights before the payload fairing is connected. This image was released June 10, 2013. Engineers inspect NASA's IRIS spacecraft with blacklights before the payload fairing is connected. This image was released June 10, 2013.

Payload Fairing Moved for Installation

NASA/ Tony Vauclin

Orbital Sciences team members move the second half of the payload fairing before it is placed over NASA's IRIS spacecraft. This image was released June 10, 2013. [Read the full launch story]

First Movie Captured by IRIS Solar Observatory

NASA/IRIS

A still image from the first movie captured by the IRIS solar observatory, 21 hours after mission controllers opened the telescope’s door.

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