The COronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (COSMO) is a unique ground-based facility designed to address current shortfalls in our capability to measure magnetic fields in the solar corona. Solar activity, including solar eruptions known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), derive the bulk of their energy from the coronal magnetic field. This activity drives space weather that impacts Earth, including damaging satellites, adversely effecting communications, and posing hazards to astronauts. COSMO tracks the energy build-up in the Sun's magnetic field and changes in plasma conditions in the corona and in the atmospheric layer below the corona known as the chromosphere. These observations will be used to identify and track the physical processes that create CMEs and provide new information for space weather forecasting.
COSMO is comprised of three instruments to capture these observations:
The 1.5-m aperture Large Coronagraph (LC) is the central instrument of COSMO. It will observe the total and polarized light produced by multiple coronal emission lines from the visible to the near-infrared (IR). The polarized light provides measurements of the coronal magnetic field and the various emission lines provide observations of changing plasma conditions. The large aperture is needed to collect enough light to measure the strength of the coronal magnetic field in the direction of the observer.
The Chromospheric and prominence Magnetometer (ChroMag) measures the magnetic field and plasma conditions below the corona in the solar chromosphere using polarized light from emission lines in the chromosphere and photosphere.
The COSMO K-Coronagraph (K-Cor), currently operating at Mauna Loa, observes the low corona in broad band light. These ‘white light’ observations are ideal for tracking CMEs and for providing information on the density of the corona.
Please see ‘COSMO NEWS’ in menu, for recent information on COSMO work.