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Hot new space probe ready to fly

A drawing of HESSI
A drawing of HESSI  

(CNN) -- NASA is about to launch a probe on a really hot mission. The High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager spacecraft, or HESSI, is scheduled for launch on June 7.

The spacecraft will explore the physics of particle acceleration and energy release in solar flares. In other words, it will make cool movies of the sun.

The spacecraft has one instrument -- an imaging spectrometer that can take high fidelity color movies of solar flares in X-rays and gamma rays. Those images should help scientists better understand the sun.

HESSI will get backup from ground-based optical and radio telescopes. Also, the probe's managers will compare notes with researchers monitoring other spacecraft.


According to NASA, HESSI will deliver the clearest images of any X-ray or gamma ray instrument ever flown in space.

HESSI was scheduled to be launched last July on a Pegasus rocket, but the date was pushed back after the spacecraft was damaged during a vibration test on March 21, 2000. The new launch time is June 7 at around 10 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida.


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