A Soviet era military rocket has successfully launched three satellites. Liftoff was at 7:42 AM Phoenix time (14:42 UTC).
The French satellite, Picard, named after the French astronomer Jean Picard who measured the diameter of the Sun in the 17th century, carries three instruments:
SODISM, a 4.3-inch imaging telescope, is designed to measure the diameter, shape and rotation of the Sun. The study will also deal with the source of variations in solar radiant energy.
SOVAP and PREMOS will measure energy fluctuations across the spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared.
The Swedish satellites Tango and Mango, are designed to test automated rendezvous and formation flying. These capabilities will be crucial for future space telescopes based on multiple spacecraft flying thousands of kilometers apart.
Artist’s concept of Picard observing the sun from Earth orbit.
Image Credit: CNES/D. Ducros
Artist’s concept of the Tango (left) and Mango (right) spacecraft.
Image Credit: Swedish Space Corp