A Comprehensive and Dynamic Instrumentation Group Supports Scientific Goals

HAO’s Instrumentation Group (IG) is a dynamic engineering group working to support HAO scientists and PI’s in their efforts to pursue scientific goals with the use of instrumentation. HAO IG is involved in conception, development, fabrication, deployment, and operations of these instruments around the world and in our backyard. The group maintains competencies in systems, optical, electrical, mechanical, and software engineering, making them an elite group with a rich knowledge of solar instrumentation and exciting new strategies to learn more about our Sun. The HAO IG also runs an engineering internship program each summer with a goal of increasing diversity in the engineering fields by giving undergraduate students exciting, real-world projects to work on.

During 2016, HAO’s IG has been involved in groundbreaking projects. The group has seen completion of SUNRISE Reflight, Slovakian Solar Chromospheric Detector (SCD), and Fabry Perot Inferometer (FPI) China III. They are well underway with Visible Spectro-Polarimeter (ViSP), upgrade to the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter (UComp), Chromosphere and Prominence Magnetometer (Chromag), and High Altitude Interferometer WIND Observation (HiWIND).

Lomnicky Peak Observatory image
Lomnicky Peak Observatory
Slovakia Solar Chromospheric Detector image
The Slovakia Solar Chromospheric Detector was successfully deployed at Lomnicky Peak
The Chromospheric and Prominence Magnetometer (ChroMag) image
The Chromospheric and Prominence Magnetometer (ChroMag) will measure and monitor the magnetic and thermodynamic conditions of the chromosphere
HiWind Instrument image
The HiWind instrument will be deployed in December 2017
Balloon Launch at McMurdo, Antarctica image
Example of a balloon launch at McMurdo, Antarctica

The SUNRISE refight was completed in 2013. Since then, data has been analyzed and papers are being published to highlight the science that came out of the flight. The HAO instrumentation group has been intimately involved in this, as well as assisting with data recovery. Look for the papers to be published in the coming months. (NASA: NNX13AE96G)

The Slovakian Solar Chromospheric Detector was successfully deployed at Lomnicky Peak Observatory of the Astronomical Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) in Fall, 2016. This instrument is for on-disc observations of solar flares. It will obtain spectropolarimetric data in several photospheric and chromospheric spectral lines of iron, hydrogen, helium, sodium, and calcium. HAO very much enjoyed working with partners at the SAS is one very interested in seeing the data begin to come out of the instrument now on board at the SAS Observatory. (SAS: HAO12155)

The group completed an extensive Preliminary Design Review (PDR) effort for COSMO in November of 2015. This extensive suite of instruments promises to be very important to HAO science and our mission in the coming yearsThe Fabry Perot Interferometer (FPI) created by HAO for the Chinese Research Institute of Radiowave Propagation (CRIRP), was completed in November 2016. This FPI will record the Doppler effect of the airglow radiation in the medium and high level atmosphere. It will use the interferometric diagram to confirm the atmosphere motion and spectrum change in the area of airglow radiation for obtaining the data of speed and temperature of the atmosphere. (CRIRP: 7MUS0161)

HAO has several projects that are well underway and will continue in 2017. The Visual Spectro-Polarimeter, ViSP, is an instrument expected to provide precision measurements of the full state of polarization simultaneously at diverse wavelengths in the visible spectrum, and fully resolving the spectral profiles of spectral lines originating in the solar atmosphere. The construction phase continues at this time with deployment expected in April of 2019. (AURA: C22017BN)

The upgrade to the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter (UCoMP), with the University of Michigan is in full swing. The purpose of this project is the upgrade the CoMP instrument to make it capable of observing emission lines from 530-1083 nm. This involves the Lyot filter, detector, optics, mechanical upgrades, and computer/software upgrades. This is being led by E. Landi at the University of Michigan and S. Tomczyk at HAO. (University of Michigan: HAO31076)

HAO’s Chromosphere and Prominence Magnetometer (ChroMag) is part of the COSMO suite of instruments at Mauna Loa and is designed to infer the magnetic field within and at the base of the solar corona. The instrument has been deployed at HAO’s dome at the Mesa Lab in Boulder, CO and is nearing completion to be ready for deployment at Mauna Loa. (NSF: M0856145)

Dr. Qian Wu’s High Altitude Interferometer WIND Observation (HiWIND) reflight project is also in full swing. The refurbishment of the HIWIND instrument is being completed and a long duration (approximately 30 days) science flight from McMurdo, Antarctica will take place. The purpose is to directly address questions related to thermosphere-ionosphere interaction. This extended flight will take place in December of 2017 and will be the first in Antarctica to take these types of observations. (NASA: NNX15AK75G)

Each summer, our IG group sponsors a summer internship program to give real-world engineering experience to undergraduates while increasing diversity in the field. HAO has committed to this program for the last four summers which is aimed at engineering students that are part of the CU BOLD program. Our interns have been getting essential experience on many projects as they complete work as part of a given project team. The fifth year promises to be unique for the interns as they will primarily focus their time on the eclipse projects. Interns are funded by NSF Base as well as the projects specifically noted in this article.

As part of our ongoing effort to support engineering education, HAO is collaborating with a senior design team at the University of Colorado to design and build a 3U cubesat. The student fabricated cubesat will be a piggyback payload aboard the HiWIND mission in Antarctica. (NSF: M0856145). Through this collaboration, HAO will develop a baseline competency for proposing follow-on space borne cubesat missions.

It is a very exciting time for HAO’s Instrumentation Group.

The Chromospheric and Prominence Magnetometer (ChroMag) will measure and monitor the magnetic and thermodynamic conditions of the chromosphere