Astronomy with SMEI

T.A. Kuchar1, S.D. Price, A. Buffington2, P.P. Hick2, B.V. Jackson2

Air Force Research Laboratory
AFRL/VSBC, 29 Randolph Road, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-3010

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The Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) is comprised of three detectors capable of imaging coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun. It will orbit in an 830 km sun-synchronous orbit and provide a hemispherical view about the sun approximately every 100 minutes. The bandpass of the detectors is in the visual and near IR and ranges from 400 to 1100 nm. The processed images will have a resolution of 1 degree in science data mode. The detection of CMEs will follow after the stellar background and other known astronomical phenomena (e.g. planets, asteroids, and zodiacal emission) have been registered and removed from the SMEI data. Since CMEs evolve on timescales of hours to days, data from a series of consecutive orbits can be compared to show their presence.

The SMEI mission is scheduled to last for 5 years and thus has the potential to reveal variations on annual timescales. The data are uniquely suited to provide analysis for zodiacal background models over this wavelength range. In this poster we present the methodology for removing the stellar contribution from the SMEI data and how this can be used to track annual changes seen in the zodiacal cloud. We show a test of concept in this presentation using data taken with a prototype SMEI camera at the Table Mountain Observatory.

SMEI is a collaborative project between the US Air Force, UCSD/CASS, and the University of Birmingham, England.