Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. – Inside a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, technicians prepare to offload the third stage of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket from the truck in which it was transported.
NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, spacecraft will launch aboard the Pegasus XL in late 2012. 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. IRIS fills a crucial gap in our ability to advance studies of the sun-to-Earth connection by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the foundation of the corona and heliosphere, or region around the sun. Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin