IMaX (Imaging Magnetograph eXperiment)

Mission: Sunrise
Target: The Sun

IMaX is aimed at obtaining quasi-monochromatic images of all four Stokes parameters at several wavelengths in order to study the magnetic field and the velocity of the solar photosphere.
Launches: Jun/2009 and Jun/2013. 

The Imaging Magnetograph eXperiment (IMaX) is one of the post-focus instruments of the one-meter solar telescope aboard the Sunrise mission. The latter is a stratospheric balloon mission that has been studying the Sun while flying above the Arctic (from Kiruna in Sweden all the way to Canada). The mission is a collaboration between Germany (through its space agency, DLR and the Max Planck Institut für Sonnensystemforschung [MPS] which acts as the leader institution, and the Kiepenheuer Institut für Sonnenphysik [KIS]), the USA (through its space agency, NASA, the High Altitude Observatory [HAO-NCAR], and the Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory [LMSAL]), and Spain (through its national space program, PNE, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias [IAC], the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aerospacial [INTA], the Grupo de Astronomía y Ciencias del Espacio [GACE], and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía [IAA-CSIC]).

The Spanish contribution to the Sunrise project is the IMaX magnetograph.

IMaX provided the best temporal resolution (the vector magnetic field will be determined every few tens of a second). This high temporal cadence is needed to study phenomena occurring on the Sun at very short temporal scales (for instance, the formation of kG flux tubes) and the propagation of MHD waves. Also important is the fact that the Sun was observed during ~ 5 days, under conditions which are far more stable than at the ground. Only after these long observational sequences, the natural temporal scales of magnetic field appearance and disappearance will become clear.

IAA development: 

The IAA has contributed to IMaX development both with scientific tasks and instrumentation development:

Scientific activities:

Many numerical simulations and theoretical work have been carried out in order to decide the most suitable line and wavelength samples for the instrument. Numerical experiments have also been carried out for exploring the diagnostic capabilities of the instrument in the different observing modes.

Instrumentation activities:

The IAA has developed the instrument proximity electronics box. This is a box placed in the optical bench that is in charge of reading out the cameras and of providing the high-voltage power supply of the étalon (wavelength is tuned by means of high voltage between -3000 and 3000 V). This box is pressurized in order to maintain laboratory conditions during the flight. Since the electronic components are commercial they would not work properly under the hostile conditions of the stratosphere.

The IAA has been also in charge of developing IMaX main electronics. This is an electronics box which is separated from the optical bench and is responsible for the whole behavior of the instrument. As in the proximity electronics case, this main electronics box is also pressurized.

Finally, the IAA has also developed the software which consists of two modules, namely the control software and the data-processing software which is implementes in a FPGA.

Status: A second Sunrise flight successfully took place on June, 2013.