Skip to Main Content

Hinode (Solar-B)

Hinode (Solar-B) mission graphic

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: September 23, 2006

Mission Project Home Page -

Program(s):Heliophysics Research, Solar Terrestrial Probes

Pin it

Follow Hinode on Flickr.

HINODE - magnified solar surface
Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope is the first space-borne instrument to measure the strength and direction of the Sun's magnetic field in the Sun's low atmosphere, also called the photosphere. This image from the Solar Optical Telescope shows a greatly magnified portion of the solar surface. Energy from below the surface of the Sun is transported by convection and results in the convection cells, or granulation, seen in this image. The lighter areas reveal where gases are rising from below, while the darker "intergranular lanes" reveal where cooler gases are sinking back down.
Image Credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC

The Hinode (Solar-B) is a highly sophisticated observational satellite equipped with three advanced solar telescopes. It was launched on September 22, 2006. Its solar optical telescope (SOT) has an unprecedented 0.2 arcsec resolution for the observation of solar magnetic fields. It would resolve a feature with the size of 50cm, if it observed the Earth. The X-ray telescope (XRT) has a resolution of three times as high as Yohkoh, and the EUV imaging spectrometer (EIS) has sensitivity ten times as high as the ESA SOHO instrument. These X-ray and EUV telescopes would reveal the heating mechanism and dynamics of the active solar corona.

With this suite of telescopes, we can address the following key questions in solar physics:

  1. Why does a hot corona exist above the cool atmosphere?
  2. What drives explosive events such as solar flares?
  3. What creates the Sun's magnetic fields?

The Hinode Science Center at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) plays a lead role in instrument design and development, mission operation and data analysis with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and promotes international collaboration with the US and European partners.