SPICE in everyday language


SPICE is one of the ten instruments that will fly on board Solar Orbiter, a mission that orbits close to the Sun to understand how it creates and controls the heliosphere, the volume of space in which all the planets of the solar system travel.

The mission will help answer fundamental questions about how our star works and its influence on the solar system, including Earth. Solar activity can cause what are called space weather events, which can have an impact on critical infrastructure such as power grids, communications and aviation. The more that is understood of our closest star, the more can be learned about how to predict and mitigate against the adverse impacts of its activity.


SPICE is an ultraviolet spectrometer which will provide remote sensing (= far from the source, like any telescopes) data of plasma dynamics at the Sun’s surface and chemical composition in the solar corona. The mission will provide a better view of the Sun’s poles by flying up out of the ecliptic plane and will fly within just 0.28 astronomical units of the Sun (inside the orbit of Mercury), a challenge for the design and testing of the sensitive instruments. 

The links provided below are meant for anyone to try spectroscopy at home or in classrooms, and learn a bit more about the Sun and SPICE.


What is spectroscopy?   

How do we do spectroscopy?

SPICE mission on Solar Orbiter

Spectroscopy in the classrooms


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