Probing the Fundamental Physics of the Solar Corona with Lunar Solar Occultation Observations

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
JournalSolar Physics
Volume218
DOI
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
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Abstract

Imaging and spectroscopy of the solar corona, coupled with polarimetry, are the only tools available at present to capture signatures of physical processes responsible for coronal heating and solar wind acceleration within the first few solar radii above the solar limb. With the recent advent of improved detector technology and image processing techniques, broad-band white light and narrow-band multi-wavelength observations of coronal forbidden lines, made during total solar eclipses, have started to yield new views about the thermodynamic and magnetic properties of coronal structures. This paper outlines these unique capabilities, which until present, have been feasible primarily with observations during natural total solar eclipses. This work also draws attention to the exciting possibility of greatly increasing the frequency and duration of solar eclipse observations with Moon orbiting observatories utilizing lunar limb occultation of the solar disk for coronal measurements.

This is a paper which introduces the novel idea of observing the solar corona by using a spacecraft which orbits the moon. This is a ground-breaking idea, yet feasible considering that such a spacecraft could also carry lunar instruments. In addition, the solar telescope would be a small and simple instrument since an occulter would not be needed.