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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

MinXSS-3 (INSPIRESat-1) first light!

March 7, 2022

Just a couple weeks after deployment, we’ve been able to turn on the Dual-zone Aperture X-ray Solar Spectrometer (DAXSS), the upgraded successor to the primary instrument on MinXSS. DAXSS has high dynamic range due to dual-zone aperture (which we published about here) as well as improved energy resolution. That improvement is what you can see in this first light spectrum, which was taken from 2022-02-28 01:08:00 to 01:22:00 UTC. This is the first time we’ve been able to so easily pick out those Fe, Ne lines (the two left emission features). All of these line complexes are better isolated than before and with better signal than we’re used to. And we’re not even done yet; we’re still in the process of fine tuning some onboard thresholds that specify how the instrument operates.

These improved data will allow for better scientific analysis, such as providing tighter constraints on the abundance of these ions and their respective temperatures and emission measures. Those are important physical parameters to determine because they can help us understand, among other things, how it is that the corona is millions of degrees in temperature while the solar surface is only a few thousand degrees. This “coronal heating problem” is one of the biggest outstanding mysteries about how the Sun works; moreover, it’s one of the unresolved problems in physics generally.