Success for the first flight of the CLASP solar spectropolarimeter
The CLASP instrument (Chromospheric Lyman Alpha Spectropolarimeter) was successfully launched by a sounding rocket on September 3, 2015 at 17H UT from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The suborbital flight was nominal. The instrument went nominally through its observing program and the data quality is superb.
The objective of CLASP is to derive the magnetic field in the solar chromosphere from spectro-polarimetric measurements of the Lyman alpha line of neutral hydrogne (121.6 nm). While it dominates the physical processes in the solar atmosphere (chromosphere and corona), the magnetic field there is only known from extrapolations of the photospheric field. The CLASP observations are the first to allow direct measurement of the magnetic field in the upper layers of the solar atmosphere, thus opening a new field of study.
CLASP is composed of a 28 cm diameter telescope feeding a spectropolarimeter working at 121.6 nm. IAS, as co-PI of the instrument, has provided major contributions: the optical concept of the spectropolarimeter was initially developed at IAS and further refined in Japan, ; the technology of the high reflectivity polarizers was developped at the Institut d'Optique for the LYOT/SMESE project; and t IAS has provided the dispersive grating.
CLASP was developped under the responsibility of Marshall Space Flight Center (USA) with collaborations from NAOJ (Japon), IAS (France) and IAC (Espagne)