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A space observatory launched in June and powered by a lithium-ion battery manufactured by Yardney Technical Products has produced its first images of the so-called interface region of the sun.
According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor, the new photographs are revealing "remarkably fine details" about a section of the sun's atmosphere noted for wide temperature gaps and blamed for events such as solar flares that can disrupt satellite communication and even GPS readings.
The IRIS satellite, powered by solar arrays tied to a 28-volt Yardney battery, will gather information about how energy and material move about the sun in an attempt to solve one of the solar system's biggest mysteries: why parts of the star's atmosphere are 1,000 times hotter than its surface.
Yardney, up until last year based in Pawcatuck but now headquartered in Greenwich, R.I., said Monday that its lightweight battery is a "critical part" of the Interface Region Imaging Spectograph observatory that was launched June 27.
"We are proud to announce the first space deployment of a Yardney Li-ion battery since our move to Rhode Island," Vincent A. Yevoli, president and chief operating officer of Yardney said in a statement. "Our next launch will be on MAVEN, a Mars Orbiter, at the end of the year."
Yardney's batteries performed brilliantly after the 2003 landing of Spirit, one of NASA's first Mars rovers, allowing a mission expected to last only three months to be extended for years. Yardney also was involved in at least three other Mars projects, the Opportunity rover, the Phoenix spacecraft and the Curiosity rover that made a spectacular touch-down in August 2012.
The IRIS telescope made its orbit after being launched beneath a Stargazer-L1011 aircraft by a Pegasus XL rocket. Yardney teamed with Lockheed Martin Space Systems and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the IRIS project, which is part of NASA's Small Explorers Program, which caps mission costs at $120 million.
The observatory will be using a multi-channel imaging spectrograph to study a region of the sun from which most of its ultraviolet light emanates.