WorldWideScience

Sample records for geocorona

  1. Geocoronal imaging with Dynamics Explorer

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rairden, R. L.; Frank, L. A.; Craven, J. D.

    1986-01-01

    The ultraviolet photometer of the University of Iowa spin-scan auroral imaging instrumentation on board Dynamics Explorer-1 has returned numerous hydrogen Lyman alpha images of the geocorona from altitudes of 570 km to 23,300 km (1.09 R sub E to 4.66 R sub E geocentric radial distance). The hydrogen density gradient is shown by a plot of the zenith intensities throughout this range, which decrease to near celestial background values as the spacecraft approaches apogee. Characterizing the upper geocorona as optically thin (single-scattering), the zenith intensity is converted directly to vertical column density. This approximation loses its validity deeper in the geocorona, where the hydrogen is demonstrated to be optically thick in that there is no Lyman alpha limb brightening. Further study of the geocoronal hydrogen distribution will require computer modeling of the radiative transfer.

  2. Geocoronal imaging with Dynamics Explorer - A first look

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rairden, R. L.; Frank, L. A.; Craven, J. D.

    1983-01-01

    The ultraviolet photometer of the University of Iowa spin-scan auroral imaging instrumentation on board Dynamics Explorer-1 has returned numerous hydrogen Lyman alpha images of the geocorona from altitudes of 570 km to 23,300 km (1.09 R sub E to 4.66 R sub E geocentric radial distance). The hydrogen density gradient is shown by a plot of the zenith intensities throughout this range, which decrease to near celestial background values as the spacecraft approaches apogee. Characterizing the upper geocorona as optically thin (single-scattering), the zenith intensity is converted directly to vertical column density. This approximation loses its validity deeper in the geocorona, where the hydrogen is demonstrated to be optically thick in that there is no Lyman alpha limb brightening. Further study of the geocoronal hydrogen distribution will require computer modeling of the radiative transfer. Previously announced in STAR as N83-20889

  3. Measurements in interplanetary space and in the Martian upper atmosphere with a hydrogen absorption-cell spectrophotometer for Lα-radiation on-board Mars 4 - 7 spaceprobes

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Babichenko, S.I.; Deregusov, E.V.; Kurt, V.G.; Romanova, N.N.; Skljankin, V.A.; Smirnov, A.S.; Bertaux, J.J.; Blamont, J.

    1977-01-01

    An ultraviolet spectrophotometer UFS-2, designed to measure radiation of atomic hydrogen in the Lα-line, was installed onboard the interplanetary Mars 4 - 7 spaceprobes launched in August 1973. The absorption cell which was used for the first time outside the hydrogen geocorona allowed direct temperature measurements of neutral interstellar hydrogen near the Sun and in the upper Martian atmosphere. (Auth.)

  4. The impact of exospheric neutral dynamics on ring current decay

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ilie, R.; Liemohn, M. W.; Skoug, R. M.; Funsten, H. O.; Gruntman, M.; Bailey, J. J.; Toth, G.

    2015-12-01

    The geocorona plays an important role in the energy budget of the Earth's inner magnetosphere since charge exchange of energetic ions with exospheric neutrals makes the exosphere act as an energy sink for ring current particles. Long-term ring current decay following a magnetic storm is mainly due to these electron transfer reactions, leading to the formation energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that leave the ring current system on ballistic trajectories. The number of ENAs emitted from a given region of space depends on several factors, such as the energy and species of the energetic ion population in that region and the density of the neutral gas with which the ions undergo charge exchange. However, the density and structure of the exosphere are strongly dependent on changes in atmospheric temperature and density as well as charge exchange with the ions of plasmaspheric origin, which depletes the geocorona (by having a neutral removed from the system). Moreover, the radiation pressure exerted by solar far-ultraviolet photons pushes the geocoronal hydrogen away from the Earth in an anti-sunward direction to form a tail of neutral hydrogen. TWINS ENA images provide a direct measurement of these ENA losses and therefore insight into the dynamics of the ring current decay through interactions with the geocorona. We assess the influence of geocoronal neutrals on ring current formation and decay by analysis of the predicted ENA emissions using 6 different geocoronal models and simulations from the HEIDI ring current model during storm time. Comparison with TWINS ENA images shows that the location of the peak ENA enhancements is highly dependent on the distribution of geocoronal hydrogen density. We show that the neutral dynamics has a strong influence on the time evolution of the ring current populations as well as on the formation of energetic neutral atoms.

  5. The earth's ring current - Present situation and future thrusts

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williams, D. J.

    1987-01-01

    Particle distributions, currents, and the ring current situation prior to the August 1984 launch of the AMPTE Charge Composition Explorer (CCE) are discussed. CCE results which demonstrate the capability of these new measurements to pursue questions of ring current sources, energization, and transport are presented. Consideration is given to various ring current generation mechanisms which have been discussed in the literature, and a two-step generation process which to a certain extent unifies the previous mechanisms is presented. The first in-situ global observations of ring current decay as obtained through the detection of energetic neutral atoms generated by charge exchange interactions between the ring current and hydrogen geocorona are discussed, as well as the possibility of using the detection of energetic neutral atoms to obtain global images of the earth's ring current.

  6. Ultrathin foils used for low-energy neutral atom imaging of the terrestrial magnetosphere

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Funsten, H.O.; McComas, D.J.; Barraclough, B.L.

    1993-01-01

    Magnetospheric imaging by remote detection of low-energy neutral atoms (LENAs) that are created by charge exchange between magnetospheric plasma ions and neutral geocoronal atoms has been proposed as a method to provide global information of magnetospheric dynamics. For LENA detecting, carbon foils can be implemented to (1) ionize the LENAs and electrostatically remove them from the large background of solar UV scattered by the geocorona to which LENA detectors (e.g., microchannel plates) are sensitive and (2) generate secondary electrons to provide coincidence and/or LENA trajectory information. Quantification of LENA-foil interactions are crucial in defining LENA imager performance. The authors present equilibrium charge state distributions due to foil contamination from exposure to air. Angular scattering that results from the projectile-foil interaction is quantified and is shown to be independent of the charge state distribution

  7. Detection of cold gas releases in space via low energy neutral atom imaging

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    McComas, D.J.; Funsten, H.O.; Moore, K.R.; Scime, E.E.; Thomsen, M.F.

    1993-01-01

    Low energy neutral atoms (LENAs) are produced in space plasmas by charge exchange between the ambient magnetospheric plasma ions and cold neutral atoms. Under normal conditions these cold neutrals come from the terrestrial geocorona, a shroud of few-eV hydrogen atoms surrounding the Earth. As a consequence of this charge exchange, it has become possible to remotely image many regions of the magnetosphere for the first time utilizing recently developed LENA imaging technology. In addition to the natural hydrogen geocorona, conventional explosions and maneuvering thruster firings can also introduce large amounts of cold gas into the space environment. In this paper the authors examine whether such potentially clandestine activities could also be remotely observed for the first time via LENA imaging. First, they examine the fluxes of LENAs produced in the space environment from a conventional explosion. Then they review the present state of the art in the emerging field of LENA detection and imaging. Recent work has shown that LENAs can be imaged by first converting the neutrals to ions with ultra-thin (10s of angstrom) foils and then electrostatically analyzing these newly created ions to reject the large (> 10 10 cm -2 s -1 ) UV background to which the low energy detectors are sensitive. They conclude that the sensitivities for present LENA imager designs may be just adequate for detecting some man-made releases. With additional improvements in LENA detection capabilities, this technique could become an important new method for monitoring for conventional explosions, as well as other man-made neutral releases, in the space environment

  8. Terrestrial magnetospheric imaging: Numerical modeling of low energy neutral atoms

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Moore, K.R.; Funsten, H.O.; McComas, D.J.; Scime, E.E.; Thomsen, M.F.

    1993-01-01

    Imaging of the terrestrial magnetosphere can be performed by detection of low energy neutral atoms (LENAs) that are produced by charge exchange between magnetospheric plasma ions and cold neutral atoms of the Earth's geocorona. As a result of recent instrumentation advances it is now feasible to make energy-resolved measurements of LENAs from less than I key to greater than 30 key. To model expected LENA fluxes at a spacecraft, we initially used a simplistic, spherically symmetric magnetospheric plasma model. 6 We now present improved calculations of both hydrogen and oxygen line-of-sight LENA fluxes expected on orbit for various plasma regimes as predicted by the Rice University Magnetospheric Specification Model. We also estimate expected image count rates based on realistic instrument geometric factors, energy passbands, and image accumulation intervals. The results indicate that presently proposed LENA instruments are capable of imaging of storm time ring current and potentially even quiet time ring current fluxes, and that phenomena such as ion injections from the tail and subsequent drifts toward the dayside magnetopause may also be deduced

  9. Low-energy neutral atom emission from the Earth's magnetosphere

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Moore, K.R.; Scime, E.E.; Funsten, H.O.; McComas, D.J.; Thomsen, M.F.

    1994-01-01

    Imaging of the terrestrial magnetosphere is possible through the detection of low-energy neutral atoms (LENAs) produced by charge exchange between magnetospheric plasma ions and neutral atoms of the Earth's geocorona. The authors present calculations of both hydrogen and oxygen line-of-sight LENA fluxes expected on orbit for various plasma regimes as predicted by the Rice University Magnetospheric Specification Model. To decrease the required computation time, they are in the process of adapting their code for massively parallel computers. The speed gains achieved from parallel algorithms are substantial, and they present results from computational runs on the Connection Machine CM-2 data parallel supercomputer. They also estimate expected image count rates and image quality based on realistic instrument geometric factors, energy passbands, neutral atom scattering in the instrument, and image accumulation intervals. The results indicate that LENA imaging instruments will need a geometric factor (G) on the order of 0.1 cm 2 sr eV/eV to be capable of imaging storm time ring currents, and a G of 1.0 cm 2 sr eV/eV in order to image the quiet time ring current fluxes, ion injections from the tail, and subsequent ion drifts toward the dayside magnetopause

  10. A study of the terrestrial thermosphere by remote sensing of OI dayglow in the far and extreme ultraviolet

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Cotton, D.M.

    1991-01-01

    The upper region of the Earth's atmosphere, the thermosphere, is a key part of the coupled solar-terrestrial system. An important method of obtaining information in the this region is through analysis of radiation excited through the interactions of the thermosphere with solar ionizing, extreme and far ultraviolet radiation. This dissertation presents one such study by the remote sensing of OI in the far and extreme ultraviolet dayglow. The research program included the development construction, and flight of a sounding rocket spectrometer to test this current understanding of the excitation and transport mechanisms of the OI 1356, 1304, 1027, and 989 angstrom emissions. This data set was analyzed using current electron and radiative transport models with the purpose of checking the viability of OI remote sensing; that is, whether existing models and input parameters are adequate to predict these detailed measurements. From discrepancies between modeled and measured emissions, inferences about these input parameters were made. Among other things, the data supports a 40% optically thick cascade contribution to the 1304 angstrom emission. From upper lying states corresponding to 1040, 1027 and 989 angstrom about half of this cascade has been accounted for in this study. There is also evidence that the Lyman β airglow from the geo-corona contributes a significant proportion (30-50%) to the OI 1027 angstrom feature. Furthermore, the photoelectron contribution to the 1027 angstrom feature appears to be underestimated in the current models by a factor of 20

  11. Low Altitude Emission (LAE) of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENA) Observed by TWINS and its Relation to the CINEMA CubeSat Mission

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bazell, D.; Sotirelis, T.; Nair, H.; Roelof, E. C.; Brandt, P. C.

    2009-12-01

    The brightest source of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) at energies >1keV is low altitude emission (LAE) from ~200-400km near auroral latitudes where precipitating energetic ions undergo multiple atomic collisions with the monatomic (O) exosphere. This emission is many times brighter than that from the high-altitude ring current region where the energetic ions interact only weakly with the much less dense monatomic (H) hydrogen geocorona. The recently selected NSF CubeSat mission CINEMA [Lin et al., this special session] has, as part of its science payload (STEIN), an ENA imager covering energies 4-100keV. From a high-inclination ~800km orbit, STEIN will view the LAE four times during every 90 minutes. The NASA TWINS stereo ENA imagers (2-40keV) will also view the LAE from their Molniya orbits (apogee radius~7Re). We have been analyzing the TWINS ENA images of LAE and comparing them with in situ ion measurements (1-40keV) from DMSP spacecraft when their tracks take them under the ion precipitation regions imaged by TWINS. We have developed an ENA emissivity function that relates the directionally-dependent emergent ENA spectrum to that of the precipitating ions. The TWINS/DMSP direct comparisons show good agreement. We offer suggestions on joint observing strategies for CINEMA, TWINS and DMSP after the CINEMA launch in the second half of 2011.

  12. Resolving the Origin of the Diffuse Soft X-ray Background

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith, Randall K.; Foster, Adam R.; Edgar, Ricard J.; Brickhouse, Nancy S.; Sanders, Wilton T.

    2012-01-01

    In January 1993, the Diffuse X-ray Spectrometer (DXS) measured the first high-resolution spectrum of the diffuse soft X-ray background between 44-80A. A line-dominated spectrum characteristic of a 10(exp 6)K collisionally ionized plasma' was expected but while the observed spectrum was clearly line-dominated, no model would fit. Then in 2003 the Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPS) launched and observed the diffuse extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) spectrum between 90- 265A. Although many emission lines were again expected; only Fe IX at 171.1A was detected. The discovery of X-rays from comets led to the realization that heavy ions (Z=6-28) in the solar wind will emit soft X-rays as the ions interact via charge exchange with neutral atoms in the heliosphere and geocorona. Using a new model for solar wind charge exchange (SWCX) emission, we show that the diffuse soft X-ray background can be understood as a combination of emission from charge exchange onto the slow and fast solar wind together with a more distant and diffuse hot (10(exp 6)K) plasma.

  13. Energetic particles and ionization in the nighttime middle and low latitude ionosphere

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Voss, H.D.; Smith, L.G.

    1977-01-01

    Seven Nike Apache rockets, each equipped with an energetic particle spectrometer (12 E 80 keV) and electron-density experiments, were launched from Wallops Island, Virginia and Chilca, Peru, under varying geomagnetic conditions near midnight. At Wallops Island the energetic particle flux (E 40 keV) is found to be strongly dependent on Kp. The pitch-angle distribution is asymmetrical about a peak at 90 D signifying a predominately quasi-trapped flux and explaining the linear increase of count rate with altitute in the altitude region 120 to 200 km. The height-averaged ionization rates derived from the electron-density profiles are consistent with the rates calculated from the observed total particle flux for magnetic index Kp 3. In the region 90 to 110 km it is found that the nighttime ionization is primarily a result of Ly-beta radiation from the geocorona and interplanetary hydrogen for even very disturbed conditions. Below 90 km during rather disturbed conditions energetic electrons can be a significant ionization source. Two energetic particle precipitation zones have been identified at midlatitudes

  14. Energetic particles and ionization in the nighttime middle and low latitude ionosphere

    Science.gov (United States)

    Voss, H. D.; Smith, L. G.

    1977-01-01

    Seven Nike Apache rockets, each equipped with an energetic particle spectrometer (12 E 80 keV) and electron-density experiments, were launched from Wallops Island, Virginia and Chilca, Peru, under varying geomagnetic conditions near midnight. At Wallops Island the energetic particle flux (E 40 keV) is found to be strongly dependent on Kp. The pitch-angle distribution is asymmetrical about a peak at 90 D signifying a predominately quasi-trapped flux and explaining the linear increase of count rate with altitute in the altitude region 120 to 200 km. The height-averaged ionization rates derived from the electron-density profiles are consistent with the rates calculated from the observed total particle flux for magnetic index Kp 3. In the region 90 to 110 km it is found that the nighttime ionization is primarily a result of Ly-beta radiation from the geocorona and interplanetary hydrogen for even very disturbed conditions. Below 90 km during rather disturbed conditions energetic electrons can be a significant ionization source. Two energetic particle precipitation zones have been identified at midlatitudes.

  15. The NUADU experiment on TC-2 and the first Energetic Neutral Atom (ENA images recorded by this instrument

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    S. McKenna-Lawlor

    2005-11-01

    Full Text Available The Earth’s ring current and how it responds to varying interplanetary conditions is described and an account provided of the production of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs in the geo-corona. Also, the potential to remotely monitor, on a global scale, the temporal and spatial evolution of magnetospheric plasma populations through analysing ENA images recorded during magnetic storms/substorms is indicated. A technical account of the Energetic NeUtral Atom Detector Unit NUADU aboard China’s TC-2 mission (measurement range 45–>158 keV follows, together with an account of the scientific objectives of NUADU, both in stand-alone mode and in the context of multi-point imaging. Low altitude ENA emissions recorded by NUADU during south polar passages of TC-2 at the time of a moderate magnetic storm in September 2004, as well as bright ring current emissions recorded in November 2004 during a major geomagnetic storm, are presented and discussed in the context of various, accompanying, terrestrial disturbances. Also, ENA observations of the November 2004 ring current imaged simultaneously by TC-2/NUADU and by IMAGE/ HENA (viewing, respectively, from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, are compared.

  16. Magnetic field of the magnetospheric ring current and its dynamics during magnetic storms

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Feldstein, Y.I.; Grafe, A.; Pisarsky, V.Yu.; Prigansova, A.; Sumaruk, P.V.

    1990-01-01

    This review examines models existing in the literature which describe the magnetic field produced by the ring current (DR) at the Earth's surface based on the energy balance equation. The parameters of this equation, the injection function F and decay parameter τ are considered to depend on parameters of the interplanetary medium and the DR intensity. The existing models are shown to be able to describe the DR variations with sufficient accuracy (r.m.s. deviation δ between the experimental and modelled values of DR for 170 magnetic storms is 5 < δ < 15 nT, and the correlation coefficient between the two is 0.85 < r < 1). The models describe that part of the geomagnetic field variation at low latitudes during a magnetic storm that is controlled by the geoeffective characteristics of the interplanetary medium and which thus responds immediately to its variations (the driven part). The values of τ are significantly less during the main phase of a magnetic storm than during the recovery phase. This reflects the difference in the main mechanisms of ion loss from the ring current during the two phases of the storm. These are the interaction of ions with hydromagnetic waves during the main phase of the storm with its intervals of intense plasma injection into the inner magnetosphere, and charge exchange with the cold hydrogen geocorona during the recovery phase. (author)

  17. The inner magnetosphere imager mission

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Johnson, L.; Herrmann, M.

    1993-01-01

    After 30 years of in situ measurements of the Earth's magnetosphere, scientists have assembled an incomplete picture of its global composition and dynamics. Imaging the magnetosphere from space will enable scientists to better understand the global shape of the inner magnetosphere, its components and processes. The proposed inner magnetosphere imager (IMI) mission will obtain the first simultaneous images of the component regions of the inner magnetosphere and will enable scientists to relate these global images to internal and external influences as well as local observations. To obtain simultaneous images of component regions of the inner magnetosphere, measurements will comprise: the ring current and inner plasma sheet using energetic neutral atoms; the plasmasphere using extreme ultraviolet; the electron and proton auroras using far ultraviolet (FUV) and x rays; and the geocorona using FUV. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is performing a concept definition study of the proposed mission. NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications has placed the IMI third in its queue of intermediate-class missions for launch in the 1990's. An instrument complement of approximately seven imagers will fly in an elliptical Earth orbit with a seven Earth Radii (R E ) altitude apogee and approximately 4,800-kin altitude perigee. Several spacecraft concepts were examined for the mission. The first concept utilizes a spinning spacecraft with a despun platform. The second concept splits the instruments onto a spin-stabilized spacecraft and a complementary three-axis stabilized spacecraft. Launch options being assessed for the spacecraft range from a Delta 11 for the single and dual spacecraft concepts to dual Taurus launches for the two smaller spacecraft. This paper will address the mission objectives, the spacecraft design considerations, the results of the MSFC concept definition study, and future mission plans

  18. Study of interplanetary hydrogen from Lyman alpha emission and absorption determination

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Cazes, Serge.

    1979-09-01

    The purpose of the work submitted in this paper is to contribute to the study of interplanetary hydrogen from Lyman alpha emission and absorption measurements, carried out on board the D2A, OSO-8 and Copernicus satellites. This study, which was undertaken from the D2A satellite, moved us to study the interplanetary environment as from observations made from the following experiments placed on board the OSO-8 and Copernicus satellites. The experiment set up on board the OSO-8 satellite made it possible to obtain the profile of the solar alpha Lyman emission. An absorption profile was observed for the first time on these profiles and this made it possible to attribute them to interplanetary hydrogen and enabled us to make a direct and local determination of the solar ionization rate. - The spectrometer set up on board Copernicus made it possible to obtain the emission spectrum of the interplanetary environment at the same time as the geocorona. The overall velocity of the interplanetary environment was deduced from the Doppler shift between the two spectra. In the first part, the principle of the REA and POLAR experiments is recalled but only the REA experiment is described in detail, particularly the problems arising from the construction and calibration of the cell. In the second part, a study of the interplanetary environment made from the D2A determinations is presented in synthesized form. On the other hand, the study to which theses initial results led us is presented in detail. Finally, in the third part, the results obtained by means of the OSO-8 and Copernicus satellites are given [fr

  19. Lunar Prospecting With Chandra

    Science.gov (United States)

    2003-09-01

    Observations of the bright side of the Moon with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have detected oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon over a large area of the lunar surface. The abundance and distribution of those elements will help to determine how the Moon was formed. "We see X-rays from these elements directly, independent of assumptions about the mineralogy and other complications," said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., at a press conference at the "Four Years with Chandra" symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. "We have Moon samples from the six widely-space Apollo landing sites, but remote sensing with Chandra can cover a much wider area," continued Drake. "It's the next best thing to being there, and it's very fast and cost-effective." The lunar X-rays are caused by fluorescence, a process similar to the way that light is produced in fluorescent lamps. Solar X-rays bombard the surface of the Moon, knock electrons out of the inner parts of the atoms, putting them in a highly unstable state. Almost immediately, other electrons rush to fill the gaps, and in the process convert their energy into the fluorescent X-rays seen by Chandra. According to the currently popular "giant impact" theory for the formation of the Moon, a body about the size of Mars collided with the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. This impact flung molten debris from the mantle of both the Earth and the impactor into orbit around the Earth. Over the course of tens of millions of years, the debris stuck together to form the Moon. By measuring the amounts of aluminum and other elements over a wide area of the Moon and comparing them to the Earth's mantle, Drake and his colleagues plan to help test the giant impact hypothesis. "One early result," quipped Drake, "is that there is no evidence for large amounts of calcium, so cheese is not a major constituent of the Moon." Illustration of Earth's Geocorona Illustration of Earth's Geocorona The same

  20. SOHO reveals violent action on the quiet Sun

    Science.gov (United States)

    1996-05-01

    One instrument in SOHO avoids looking at the Sun, because it would be dazzled. Instead, SWAN surveys the sky all around and sees an ultraviolet glow from hydrogen atoms lit by the Sun. These atoms come on a breeze from the stars that blows through the Solar System. But the competing wind of charged particles from the Sun breaks the incoming atoms, so that they no longer emit their characteristic wavelength. The result is a hole in the pattern of emissions downstream from the Sun. The surviving emissions are brightest upstream, and far above the plane of the Sun's equator. The scientists conclude that the solar wind blowing from high-latitude regions of Sun is less strong, at least during the present quiet phase of the eleven-year cycle of activity. The Earth is also visible in the maps, because a cloud of hydrogen gas called the geocorona envelops it and glows in the ultraviolet. The geocorona would hamper observations of the interstellar glow by satellites close to the Earth. SOHO sees the geocorona from the outside, and will be able to monitor effects of solar activity on the Earth's outer atmosphere. "At the present time of a quiet Sun, our sky maps clearly indicate a situation of increased solar wind around the Sun's equator," says Jean-Loup Bertaux of the Service d'Aéronomie near Paris, who has prime responsibility for SWAN. "We are anxious to see what will happen when the Sun becomes stormier. Then we shall see important changes in the solar wind's impact on the interstellar gas, revealed by the changes in the sky maps. Meanwhile we use alternate days for special investigations, and at present we are tracking Comet Hyakutake as it approaches the Sun. When colleagues ask me why a solar spacecraft should look at comets, I remind them that the solar wind was discovered by studying comet tails." Sub-surface currents mapped SOHO is successfully probing the Sun's interior. It does so with several instruments that observe oscillations of the Sun's surface. They detect