China’s Space Science Center released the first batch of scientific images captured by the country’s first comprehensive solar probe on December 13. The Advanced Space-Based Solar Observatory (ASO-S), dubbed Kuafu-1, has been operating in orbit for two months since its launch in October.
Kuafu-1 is the world’s first near-Earth satellite telescope to simultaneously monitor solar flares, coronal mass ejections and the sun’s magnetic field. It aims to study their formation, evolution, interaction and correlation, and to provide support for space weather forecasting.
The images were captured by three different payloads on the probe – Full-Disk MagnetoGraph (FMG), Lyman-Alpha Solar Telescope (LST) and Hard X-Ray Imager (HXI).
The FMG observed the sun’s magnetic field – the first time for China to make such observations from space. The quality of the obtained longitudinal partial magnetic image of the sun reached the international advanced level, laying a good foundation for the high-precision solar magnetic field observation.
HXI achieved hard x-ray imaging of the sun, the only imager in the world to provide hard x-ray pictures from this angle. It lays a solid foundation for observing the spatial distribution, time structure and energy spectrum characteristics of non-thermal radiation in solar flares.
The LST, comprising three pieces of equipment, also captured an unprecedented image of the sun’s full disk. Two rare “white light flares” on the edge of the sun were observed. In addition, the LST will play an irreplaceable role in coronal mass ejection (CME) formation and near-CME propagation observations.
Kuafu-1 will complete in-orbit tests and enter the stage of in-orbit scientific operation at an early date. At the same time, Kuafu-1 will give full play to the combined observation of the three payloads, strengthen cooperation and data sharing in China and abroad, and make contributions to the observation and research during Solar Cycle 25, according to Gan Weiqun, the satellite’s principal scientist from the Purple Mountain Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.