NASA’s SUMI: to Observe Magnetic Fields on the Sun

On July 5, NASA will launch a mission called the Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Investigation or SUMI, to study the intricate, constantly changing attractive fields on the sun in a hard-to-observe region of the sun's low atmosphere called the chromospheres. SUMI will launch from White Sands Missile series in New Mexico on a Black Brant rocket. The flight will last about eight minutes total.

Magnetic fields, and the intense magnetic energy they help marshal, lie at the heart of how the sun can create huge explosions of light such as solar flares and eruptions of particles such as coronal mass ejections. While there are already instruments both on the ground and flying in space – that can measure these fields, each is constrained to observe the fields on a particular layer of the sun's surface or atmosphere. 

This higher layer of the chromospheres is known as the transition region because the chromospheres transitions here into the part of the sun's atmosphere called the corona -- and it is a region that is dominated by the magnetic fields and in which solar material heats up dramatically forming the corona and the base of the solar wind.

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