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Scientists and payload developers can get more information on International Space Station research facilities by contacting the ISS Payloads Office or at 281-244-6187.

Sun Monitoring on the External Payload Facility of Columbus (Solar)


Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

Facility Overview

This content was provided by Piero Galeone, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Facility Summary

Sun Monitoring on the External Payload Facility of Columbus (Solar) is a monitoring observatory that will measure the solar spectral irradiance. Apart from scientific contributions for solar and stellar physics, the knowledge of the solar energy irradiance into the Earth’s atmosphere and its variations is of great importance for atmospheric modeling, atmospheric chemistry and climatology.

Facility Manager(s)

  • Piero Galeone, European Space Research and Technology Research Centre, Noordwijk, Netherlands
  • Co-Facility Manager(s)

    Information Pending

    Facility Developer(s)

    Thales Alenia Space, Turin, , Italy

    Sponsoring Agency

    European Space Agency (ESA)

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    Information Pending

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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • Solar will be located on the Columbus External Payload Facility; Solar will measure the Sun's spectral irradiance over a wide range with unprecedented accuracy.

    • The Solar facility consists of three complementary science instruments, Solar Variable and Irradiance Monitor (SOVIM), SOLar SPECtral Irradiance Measurements (SOLSPEC) and SOLar Auto-Calibrating Extreme UV/UV Spectrometers (SOLACES) which monitor the solar flux in different wavelengths varying between 17 nanometers and 100 micrometers.


    Solar consists of three instruments complementing each other to allow measurements of the solar spectral irradiance throughout virtually the whole electromagnetic spectrum, from 17 nanometers to 100 micrometers, in which 99% of the solar energy is emitted. The scientific instruments are:

    • Solar Variable and Irradiance Monitor (SOVIM) covers near-ultraviolet, visible and thermal regions of the spectrum (200 nanometers - 100 micrometers).

    • SOLar SPECtral Irradiance Measurements (SOLSPEC) covers the 180 nanometer - 3000 nanometer range with high spectral resolution.

    • SOLar Auto-Calibrating Extreme UV/UV Spectrometers (SOLACES) measures the EUV/UV spectral regime (17 nanometers - 220 nanometers) with moderate spectral resolution.
    The Solar instruments are mounted on a Coarse Pointing Device (CPD) for Sun pointing and are controlled by a Control Unit. The CPD is the support equipment, mounted on the Columbus External Payload Adapter (CEPA), which accommodates the instruments and provides this pointing capability.

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    Facility Operations

    Solar will be transported to the ISS aboard the Space Shuttle, STS-122/1E. Following checkout of the Columbus module an EVA will be performed to attach Solar to the EPF outside of Columbus. Once the Solar is installed and checked out, the science operations will begin. Following installation on the ISS, Solar will operate continuously for approximately 1.5 years.

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    Results/More Information

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  • Onboard ISS
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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

      Schmidtke G, Froelich C, Thuillier MG..  ISS-SOLAR: Total (TSI) and spectral (SI) irradiance measurements. Advances in Space Research. 2006; 37: 255-264.

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    Related Websites
  • Solar arrives in Florida
  • European Experiments
  • ESA - ISS Factsheets
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    image Artist rendition of the Solar facility, located on the Columbus External Payload Facility outside of the ISS. Solar is shown fully integrated with the SOVIM, SOLSPEC and SOLACES instruments. Image courtesy of ESA.
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    image NASA Image: S122E009344 View of Sun Monitoring on the External Payload Facility of Columbus (Solar). Photo was taken during Expedition 16/STS-122 joint operations.
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    image NASA Image: S135E011335 showing the Solar Facility on the top (zenith) Columbus-EPF site.
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.