Solar flare: The spectacular images captured by the SWAP space telescope

Last weekend saw a solar flare as the sun erupted and blasted electromagnetic radiation towards Earth, lighting up the skies with a spectacular aurora. This is stated by the European Space Agency, ESA, in its post.

ESA’s Proba2 SWAP instrument recorded the solar flare that erupted from the Sun’s surface at 01:31 GMT/02:31 CET on March 23, 2024.

The SWAP (Sun Watcher using Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing) telescope has been deployed as part of the PROBA2 payload. SWAP is directly derived from the EIT telescope concept developed in the 1990s for the SOHO mission.

SWAP provides images of the solar corona at about 17.4 nm, a bandpass corresponding to a temperature of about 1 million degrees, at a rate of 1 image per 1-2 minutes and a field of view (FOV) of 54 arcmin.

Several important innovations were introduced in the instrument design in order to be compatible with the requirements of the PROBA2 microsatellite: compact size, with a new off-axis optical design, radiation resistance with a new CMOS-APS detector, very low power electronics, athermal opto-mechanical system, optimized systems on-board compression combined with prioritization of collected data, autonomy with automatic activation of observing and off-site procedures in the event of a solar event.

All these new features derive from the low resource requirements (power, mass, telemetry) of the mini-satellite, but also take advantage of the specificities of a modern technology platform, such as fast aiming flexibility, new powerful on-board processor, Packetwire interface and the autonomous functions.

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