, Volume 162, Issue 1-2, pp 1-37

The SOHO mission: An overview

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The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is a space mission that forms part of the Solar-Terrestrial Science Program (STSP), developed in a collaborative effort by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The STSP constitutes the first “cornerstone” of ESA's long-term programme known as “Space Science — Horizon 2000”. The principal scientific objectives of the SOHO mission are a) to reach a better understanding of the structure and dynamics of the solar interior using techniques of helioseismology, and b) to gain better insight into the physical processes that form and heat the Sun's corona, maintain it and give rise to its acceleration into the solar wind. To achieve these goals, SOHO carries a payload consisting of 12 sets of complementary instruments. SOHO is a three-axis stabilized spacecraft with a total mass of 1850 kg; 1150 W of power will be provided by the solar panels. The payload weighs about 640 kg and will consume 450 W in orbit. SOHO will be launched by an ATLAS II-AS and will be placed in a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point where it will be continuously pointing to Sun centre with an accuracy of 10 arcsec. Pointing stability will be better than 1 arcsec over 15 min intervals. The SOHO payload produces a continuous science data stream of 40 kbits/s which will be increased by 160 kbits/s whenever the solar oscillations imaging instrument is operated in its highrate mode. Telemetry will be received by NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN). Planning, coordination and operation of the spacecraft and the scientific payload will be conducted from the Experiment Operations Facility (EOF) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).