We are pleased to announce that images from the Sun Watching Active Pixel (SWAP) instrument on board the European Space Agency’s PRoject for On Board Autonomy (PROBA-2) spacecraft are now available through Helioviewer.org.
The Proba satellites are part of ESA’s In-orbit Technology Demonstration Programme, missions dedicated to the demonstration of innovative technologies. In-orbit demonstration is the last step on the technology development ladder. New technology products need to be demonstrated in orbit, particularly when users require evidence of flight heritage or when there is a high risk associated with use of the new technology. In-orbit demonstration is achieved through experiments on carriers of opportunity, such as the International Space Station, or through dedicated small satellites such as the Proba series, which was created to increase the availability of flight-testing opportunities.
PROBA-2 was launched on 2nd November 2009 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. SWAP started taking images of the Sun later in November 2009, and has been in operation ever since (we will be making these earlier images available as well as the most recent observations). SWAP demonstrates the space-based use of an image capture technology different from that used on AIA.
SWAP provides a wider field of view compared to AIA or EIT. It also is in a slightly different orbit than AIA, and so was able to observe the recent annular eclipse on May 20, 2012, whereas AIA did not see it. Check out this movie made by the SWAP team, or make your own at Helioviewer.org.
SWAP will also observe the upcoming transit of Venus, and due to the orbit of SWAP the predicted path will make for some interesting movies. AIA will also see the transit, but will see a different path.
For many more details on the science goals and operation of PROBA-2 and SWAP please visit the PROBA-2 Science Center. Thanks to the Royal Observatory of Belgium for providing these images to the Helioviewer Project, and we hope you enjoy them. Please let us know if you have any further questions.