At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Pegasus XL rocket with the attached Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph IRIS solar observatory rolled out of the hangar on its transporter to the runway at Vandenberg. There, the rocket and spacecraft were mated with the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft.
Scheduled for launch from Vandenberg on June 26, 2013, IRIS will open a new window of discovery by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun’s corona using spectrometry and imaging. The IRIS mission will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. The interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.
For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/iris Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin