Uncovering the “Pioneer Officer”

Does the sun get angry too?

  The sun is the star most closely related to human beings in the universe, and it plays an irreplaceable role in the evolution of the earth and the development of human civilization. The sun brings light and heat to the earth and is the source of all life on earth. The circulation of the earth’s atmosphere, the alternation of day and night, the rotation of the four seasons, and the changes in the temperature and warmth of the earth are the results of the action of the sun.
  The sun isn’t always gentle, and can sometimes throw tantrums—explosive activity, a burst of energy that is released in a short amount of time. The sun’s activity and conditions vary on nearly every timescale, and the sun’s magnetic field undergoes a complete change of direction about every 22 years, producing a solar cycle of about 11 years. As the magnetic field becomes more complex, it releases energy near the sun’s surface, in the form of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, or the release of extremely fast charged particles. These are the bursts of solar activity.
  The explosive activities of the sun will not bring direct and huge disasters to human beings like earthquakes and torrential rains. This can be assured. However, since human beings have entered the space age for more than half a century, their dependence on various satellites and high-tech systems such as navigation, positioning, and communication has become stronger and stronger, and satellites and high-tech systems will be directly affected by solar activities. Therefore, , the “anger” of the sun will seriously affect the aerospace, navigation, positioning, communications and other high-tech systems. Therefore, it is very important to observe and predict the explosive activity of the sun.

At 18:51 on October 14, 2021, China successfully launched the first solar exploration science and technology test satellite Xihe
Solar exploration satellites getting closer to the sun

  Since ancient times, people have paid attention to the sun, and the broad observation can be traced back to ancient times. China has a record of observing sunspots with the naked eye as early as the first year of Heping, Emperor Chengdi of the Han Dynasty (28 BC). The systematic observation of the sun began in 1610, the second year after Galileo invented the astronomical telescope. Humans began to observe and record sunspots with the telescope, which opened the era of solar scientific observation. After more than 400 years of development, especially since entering the space age in the late 1950s, through the joint observation of ground-based solar telescopes and space-based solar probes, human beings have a new understanding of the sun.
  So far, countries around the world have launched 45 solar probes, or solar observation satellites. With the development of science and technology, the level of solar observation satellites is getting higher and higher, and it is getting closer and closer to solar observation. For example, the closest distance between the Parker Solar Probe and the surface of the sun is only 8.86 times the radius of the sun, which is much closer than the distance from Mercury to the sun.

Artist’s concept of Parker Solar Probe approaching the sun (Credit/NASA)

The “Golden Key” of the Xihe

  On October 14, 2021, China’s first solar exploration science and technology test satellite, Xihe, was successfully launched, breaking the history of China’s lack of dedicated satellites for solar exploration and opening the prelude to China’s solar space exploration.
  The full name of Xihe is “Solar Hα Spectral Detection and Double Super Platform Science and Technology Experiment Satellite”. The spectral imager in the Hα band is the “golden key” for Xihe to observe the sun. It specializes in observing the photosphere and the chromosphere. For the first time in the world, the spectral formation in the Hα band on the entire heliosphere is less than 60 seconds.), we can Obtaining spectral information of nearly 16 million points on the surface of the sun is unprecedented. The solar Hα spectral line is one of the best spectral lines for studying the response of solar activity in the photosphere and chromosphere. By analyzing the data of this spectral line, the changes in physical quantities such as atmospheric temperature and velocity during the solar eruption can be obtained, and the dynamics of the solar energy can be studied. learning processes and physical mechanisms.
  In the upsurge of international solar exploration, China’s related scientific research work will also take a higher level. The future “Kwafu” plan is to develop and launch an advanced space-based solar observatory satellite, which will be located at the first Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system after launch – this is the best position to observe the sun without interruption. The project has been included in the pilot program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is scheduled to launch in 2022.