Solar EUV Experiment (SEE): Mission overview and first results



[1] The Solar EUV Experiment (SEE) is one of four scientific instruments on the NASA Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics Dynamics (TIMED) spacecraft, which has been simultaneously observing the Sun and Earth's upper atmosphere since January 2002. The SEE instrument measures the irradiance of the highly variable, solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, one of the major energy sources for the upper atmosphere. The primary SEE data product is the solar spectral irradiances from 0.1 to 194 nm in 1 nm intervals that are fundamental for the TIMED mission's investigation of the energetics in the tenuous, but highly variable, layers of the Earth's atmosphere above 60 km. The TIMED mission began normal operations on 22 January 2002, a time when the Sun displayed maximum levels of activity for solar cycle 23, and has provided daily measurements as solar activity has declined to moderate levels. Solar irradiance variability observed by SEE during the 2 years of the TIMED prime mission includes a variety of moderate and large flares over periods of seconds to hours and dozens of solar rotational cycles over a typical period of 27 days. The SEE flare measurements provide important, new results because of the simultaneous spectral coverage from 0.1 to 194 nm, albeit limited temporal coverage due to its 3% duty cycle. In addition, the SEE measurements reveal important, new results concerning phase shifts of 2–7 days in the intermediate-term variations between different UV wavelengths that appear to be related to their different center-to-limb variations. The new solar EUV irradiance time series from SEE are also important in filling the “EUV Hole,” which is the gap in irradiance measurements in the EUV spectrum since the 1980s. The solar irradiances measured by SEE (Version 7, released July 2004) are compared with other measurements and predictions from models of the solar EUV irradiance. While the measurement comparisons show reasonable agreement, there are significant differences between SEE and some of the models in the EUV range. The data processing algorithms and calibrations are also discussed.