The international team of the “Chromospheric LAyer Spectro-Polarimeter” (CLASP) space missions, which includes three scientists of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), has just received the NASA Group Achievement Honor Award for the successful execution of the recent CLASP2.1 mission. The goal of this mission is to map the magnetic field of the Sun in an extended region of the chromosphere.
The Chromospheric Layer Spectro-Polarimeter series of heliophysics sounding rocket missions were designed to measure the polarization of the ultraviolet light emitted by the Sun to study the magnetic fields in a complex region of the solar upper atmosphere known as the chromosphere. So far, three space experiments have been carried out: CLASP1 in 2015 for measuring the linear polarization of the hydrogen Lyman-alpha line at 1216 Angstroms; CLASP2 in 2019 for measuring the linear and circular polarization across the h and k lines produced by ionized magnesium atoms around 2800 Angstroms; and CLASP2.1 in 2021 for extending the CLASP2 measurements over a much larger field of view.
The most recent mission, CLASP2.1, was successfully launched on October 8, 2021 from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico (USA), aboard a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket. The resulting measurements of spectroscopically resolved polarization that CLASP2.1 obtained during its five minutes of observing time yielded a first-of-its-kind map of magnetically induced polarization in the solar ultraviolet radiation. The results demonstrate that future space telescope missions will be able to routinely take this type of measurements in order to study the magnetic fields in such region of the Sun's atmosphere (the chromosphere) that is critical for quantifying the buildup of energy for solar flares and space weather.
CLASP2.1 is an international collaboration led by USA (Marshall Space Flight Center), Japan (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Spain (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias), and France (Institute d’Astrophysique Spatialle). The Spanish contribution comes from the POLMAG research group of the IAC, whose theoretical investigations represented the motivation for the CLASP missions. The IAC scientists that participate in the CLASP2.1 mission are Ernest Alsina Ballester, Tanausú del Pino Alemán and Javier Trujillo Bueno (who is one of the four PIs of CLASP).
POLMAG is funded by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (see http://research.iac.es/proyecto/polmag/).
POLMAG aims at a true breakthrough in the development and application of polarized radiation diagnostic methods for exploring the magnetic fields of the chromosphere, transition region and corona of the Sun.
In 2015 and 2019 an international team (USA, Japan and Europe) carried out two unprecedented suborbital space experiments called CLASP and CLASP2, which were motivated by theoretical investigations carried out at the IAC. After the success of such missions, the team has just launched CLASP2.1 from the NASA facility in White Sands Missile Range (New Mexico, USA). The aim is to map the solar magnetic field throughout the chromosphere of an active region. To this end, CLASP2.1 has successfully measured the intensity and polarization of the solar ultraviolet radiation emitted by magnesium and
Every day space telescopes provide spectacular images of the solar activity. However, their instruments are blind to its main driver: the magnetic field in the outer layers of the solar atmosphere, where the explosive events that occasionally affect the Earth occur. The extraordinary observations of the polarization of the Sun’s ultraviolet light achieved by the CLASP2 mission have made it possible to map the magnetic field throughout the entire solar atmosphere, from the photosphere until the base of the extremely hot corona. This investigation, published today in the journal Science
Four years ago, an international team (USA, Japan and Europe) carried out an unprecedented suborbital space experiment called CLASP-1, motivated by theoretical investigations carried out at the IAC by Javier Trujillo Bueno and his research group. After the outstanding success of that mission, a few days ago NASA has launched CLASP-2.
CLASP and CLASP2 are opening a new window for the investigation of magnetism in solar and stellar physics. In 2008 an international team of solar physicists started a novel project of space experiments. By means of telescopes and instruments launched on board of NASA suborbital rockets, unprecedented measurements of the polarization of the ultraviolet light emitted by the Sun in several atomic lines were performed. Such spectro-polarimetric observations are needed for obtaining information on the magnetic field in the enigmatic chromosphere-corona transition region of the solar atmosphere
Launched on a NASA sounding rocket, CLASP managed to measure for the first time the polarization of the solar ultraviolet Lyman-alphs radiation emitted by Hydrogen as it was moving 150 km above the Earth's surface on its parabolic trajectory.
This experiment, led by the USA, Japan, France, and the IAC, will be carried out from a NASA sounding rocket on September 3rd.