Space Instruments

Our staff plays active roles in hardware investigations for several on-going and in-development solar physics missions:

  • Project Scientist of the LASCO coronagraphs on the joint ESA/NASA SOHO mission at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point. SOHO is the first mission to observe the Sun 24/7.
  • Project Scientist of the SECCHI imaging suite onboard the NASA STEREO mission. STEREO is the first mission to reveal the 3D nature of solar and heliospheric structures.
  • Project Scientist of the SoloHI imager onboard the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission. Solar Orbiter launches in 2019 and will be the first mission to image the Sun above the ecliptic.
  • Project Scientist of the WISPR imager onboard the NASA Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission. SPP will be the first mission to study the solar atmosphere from within, reaching within 6 million km from the Sun’s surface.

The JHUAPL solar team has over 15 years’ experience in the design, assembly, testing and calibration (on-ground & in-flight) of space-based instruments, particularly white light coronagraphs.

We have also extensive experience in concept development, proposal writing, systems engineering and science management for individual instruments, payloads and full missions.


Our group has a long history in scientific ballooning and is a recognized leader in the field. APL has successfully launched and operated balloons with solar, cometary, planetary and astrophysics payloads:

Sounding Rocket Payloads

This is a potentially new avenue for our group that takes advantage of our previous expertise. Dr. Vourlidas was involved with the development, assembly and field operations of the VAULT (first 0.5 arc-sec imaging of the solar atmosphere, using the Lya line) and VERIS (first 0.5 arc-sec spectroscopy on the corona) sounding rocket payloads at NRL from 1998 to 2014. He led the VAULT2.0 sounding rocket payload launched successfully in September 30, 2014. He has participated five launch campaigns at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, USA.