SphinX team's official press release


A new instrument is about to be put into orbit on the Russian KORONAS-PHOTON spacecraft that will observe the soft X-ray emission from the Sun's corona, obtaining data that will enable scientists to measure the abundances of elements and to make accurate estimates of the Sun's X-ray brightness at a time when sunspot activity is at an almost unprecedented low level.

Polish scientists at the Space Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, in Wroclaw, south-west Poland, have constructed an instrument called SphinX (short for Solar PHotometer In X-rays), which is an X-ray spectrophotometer, that will obtain spectra in the energy range 0.5--15 keV in 256 energy channels with frequency of up to 100 times a second. The Principal Investigator is Professor Janusz Sylwester. SphinX is part of a package of instruments known as TESIS (PI Prof. Sergei Kuzin, Lebedev Institute, Moscow). Groups at Ondrejov Observatory, Czech Republic, the Astronomical Observatory, University of Palermo, Italy, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, U.K., and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, have been involved with the instrument's hardware and software and atomic calculations for data interpretation.

KORONAS-PHOTON was launched on January 29, 2009 at 06:15 Moscow time from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, northern Russia.

SphinX will detect variability in the Sun's total X-ray emission even at the very low levels of activity that have been observed in recent years -- this minimum has been one of the deepest seen for many decades. SphinX will observe total spectra from the Sun, enabling scientists to determine the amount of neon, magnesium, silicon, and sulphur in the Sun's hot atmosphere known as the corona. The amount of argon, calcium, iron, and nickel will be measured by SphinX during the much more energetic flares that are expected to occur with greater frequency in the next few years. These measurements will enable a much improved idea of why and how it is that the abundances of these elements differ from those of the solar surface, known as the photosphere.

Further technical information can be obtained from the Space Research Centre's web site http://www.cbk.pan.wroc.pl. Information in Russian about the KORONAS-PHOTON TESIS package is given in / .


PI of the SphinX experiment
Space Research Centre,
Polish Academy of Sciences