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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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Long Bake Does SOHO Good
20 November 1998 6:00 pm
Talk about a silver lining. When a $1 billion solar observatory spun hopelessly out of control in June and lost power, astronomers feared that extreme heat and cold would ruin its dozen sensitive instruments. But this week, researchers announced that all the instruments are fine--and one sophisticated telescope aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is working even better than before the accident.
Scientists use the instrument, called the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope, to study the sun's corona, fiery plumes, and other features. Though it has produced an array of spectacular images since SOHO was launched in 1995, the instrument has been plagued by contaminants--including frozen water vapor and hydrocarbon residues--that reduced its sensitivity. When SOHO was disabled, however, the craft turned on its side, placing its electricity-producing solar panels edge-on toward the sun. That deprived it of power, but bathed the telescope in constant sunlight, heating it to more than 30oC. The long bake apparently evaporated the contaminants.
While the telescope is still not perfect, the 60% improvement in its sensitivity has it performing markedly better than in the past, says a pleasantly surprised Joe Gurman, a SOHO scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.