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The March issue of NOVA features Sunrise, the scientific collaboration that twice launched the largest balloon-borne solar telescope to ever leave the Earth's surface. Launched from the Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, it was carried aboard the HAO-developed gondola.
See NOVA, Observations from Sunrise.
Sunrise was conceived with the goal of observing magnetic structures in the Sun's surface; features such as sunspots in unprecedented detail which help us to understand the processes responsible for the formation and eventual disappearance of these enigmatic solar phenomena. In order to meet this goal the data must be collected from above the Earth's turbulent atmosphere.
The Sunrise flight project was a scientific collaboration between HAO, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Esrange Space Centre. HAO’s portion of the project (the responsibility of designing and building a gondola able to withstand stratospheric stresses, to safely transport, protect and continuously point the delicate Sunrise telescope at the Sun) was funded by a NASA, low-cost access to space award, and the Max Planck Institute.