Image Stabilization unit ready to go to space with Solar Orbiter

A few weeks ago, KIS delivered the flight unit of the image stabilization unit for the Photospheric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) of the Solar Orbiter Mission. This was an important milestone for the project, and at the same time it was the first space-qualified instrument that had been developed, built and tested at KIS. In the meantime, and after detailed tests and calibration measurements, PHI was delivered to ESA for integration to the spacecraft.

View through the entrance opening of PHI to the primary telescope mirror. To the left of the mirror one can see the correlation tracker camera (red arrow), which is one of the components of the image stabilization unit.

Correlation tracker camera, mounted below the two carbon struts. To the right one can see the primary mirror with its white cover.

The Photospheric and Helioseismic Imager during integration in the clean room of the MPS in Göttingen. In the foreground to the left there is the entrance opening, to the right, in the bottom area of the instrument the primary mirror. The correlation tracker camera is mounted to the left of the mirror (red arrow).

With the Solar Orbiter mission of the European Space Agency ESA, a solar telescope will get as close to the Sun as never before. After launch, Solar Orbiter will approach the Sun in an elliptical orbit during a 3-year cruise phase with a minimum distance of 42 Million kilometers (0.28 Astronomical Units). At the same time, Solar Orbiter will leave the plane of the ecliptic, with a final inclination of 30 degrees relative to the ecliptic. During the 2-year cruise phase the scientific instrumentation will be commissioned and tested.

With the solar telescope PHI we will, for the first time ever, be able to directly measure the magnetic field and material motions at the solar poles. Scientists will gain important information about the driving mechanism of the solar activity cycle, as well as about the question whether or not we are approaching another long-term minimum of solar activity, similar to the Maunder minimum in the 17th century.

The solar telescope PHI was developed by an international consortium led by the Max-Plank-Institute for Solar Systems Research (MPS). KIS has developed the image stabilization unit for PHI, in collaboration with the electronics faculty of the university of Barcelona. The image stabilization unit of the high-resolution telescope of PHI is crucial for required precision of the magnetic field measurements.

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