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Capturing the Solar Maximum Mission satellite from STS-41-C
The Solar Maximum Mission satellite (or SolarMax) was designed to investigate Solar phenomena, particularly solar flares. It was launched on February 14, 1980.
Although not unique in this endeavor, the SMM was notable in that its useful life compared with similar spacecraft was significantly increased by the direct intervention of a manned space mission. During STS-41-C in 1984, the Space Shuttle Challenger intercepted the SMM, maneuvering it into the shuttle's payload bay for maintenance and repairs. SMM had been fitted with a shuttle "grapple fixture" so that the shuttle's robot arm could grab it for repair. The mission was depicted in the 1985 IMAX movie The Dream Is Alive.
The Solar Maximum Mission ended on December 2, 1989, when the spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.
Experiments on board the Solar Maximum Mission
|Coronagraph/Polarimeter: 446.5-658.3 nm, 1.5- 6 sq.solar radii fov, 6.4 arcsec res.
||solar corona, prominences, and flares
||MacQueen, Robert M, High Altitude Observatory
|Ultraviolet Spectrometer and polarimeter 175.0-360.0 nm raster imager, 0.004 nm sp.res.
||solar UV, Earth's atmosphere
||Tandberg-Hanssen, Einar A, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
|Soft X-ray Polychromator: raster imager, crystal spectrom. in parts of 0.14-2.25 nm
||solar flares, active solar regions
||Acton, Loren W Lockheed Palo Alto, Culhane, J University College, London, Leonard, Gabriel, Alan-Henri, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
|Hard X-ray Imaging Spectrometer: fov 6.4 arcmin, 8 or 32 arcsec res, 3.5-30 keV
||solar active regions and flares
||de Jager, Cornelis, University of Utrecht
|Hard X-ray Burst Spectrometer: CsI(Na), 15 energy channels covering 20-260 keV
||solar flares and active regions
||Frost, Kenneth J NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
|Gamma-ray Spectrometer: NaI(T1),0.01-100 MeV in 476 channels, 16.4 s per spectrum
||Chupp, Edward L, University of New Hampshire
|Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor: 0.001-1000 micrometer solar flux
||Willson, Richard C, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Significantly, the SMM's ACRIM instrument package showed that, contrary to expectations, the Sun is actually brighter during the sunspot cycle maximum (when the greatest number of dark 'sunspots' appear). This is because sunspots are surrounded by bright features called faculae, which more than cancel the darkening effect of the sunspot.
The major scientific findings from SMM are presented in several review articles in a Monograph.
The Solar Maximum Mission satellite during 1987-1989 discovered 10 sungrazing comets.
 See also
 External links