The TRACE spacecraft mated to the Pegasus XL rocket on which it will be launched.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

TRACING the Sun...
News story originally written on March 24, 1998

On March 30, 1998, the TRACE spacecraft will be launched. TRACE stands for Transition Region and Coronal Explorer. This spacecraft has four telescopes aboard that are sensitive to the extreme-ultraviolet and ultraviolet wavelengths of light. Looking at these wavelengths, the TRACE will be able to focus in on the transition region of the Sun, that region between the cool surface (only 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit!) and the corona where temperatures are as much as 16 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The TRACE is being launched in a very timely manner...just in time for the solar cycle to reach its peak. TRACE joins in a fleet of spacecraft studying the Sun during this active time (like the ACE and Ulysses spacecraft).

"TRACE was completed on time, under budget, and met all performance goals," said Jim Watzin, Small Explorer project manager, NASA Goddard. "I'm really proud of this team. They have produced a magnificent observatory in a manner that saved NASA nearly $9.7 million." TRACE, which costs $49 million, is the third spacecraft in the Small Explorer series of small, relatively low-cost missions.

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Photosphere - the "Surface" of the Sun

Most of the energy we receive from the Sun is the visible (white) light emitted from the photosphere. The photosphere is one of the coolest regions of the Sun (6000 K), so only a small fraction (0.1%)...more

The Solar Corona

Rising above the Sun's chromosphere , the temperature jumps sharply from a few tens of thousands of kelvins to as much as a few million kelvins in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the solar corona. Understanding...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA