Sun Monitoring on the External Payload Facility of Columbus (Solar)

Facility Overview


This content was provided by Piero Galeone, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.


Brief Facility Summary


Sun Monitoring on the External Payload Facility of Columbus (Solar) is a monitoring observatory that will measure the solar spectral irradiance. Apart from scientific contributions for solar and stellar physics, the knowledge of the solar energy irradiance into the Earth’s atmosphere and its variations is of great importance for atmospheric modeling, atmospheric chemistry and climatology.

Facility Manager(s)


Piero Galeone, European Space Research and Technology Research Centre, Noordwijk, Netherlands


Co-Facility Manager(s)


Information Pending


Facility Developer(s)


Thales Alenia Space, Turin, , Italy

Sponsoring Agency


European Space Agency (ESA)

Expeditions Assigned


Facility Description

Facility Overview

Solar will be located on the Columbus External Payload Facility; Solar will measure the Sun’s spectral irradiance over a wide range with unprecedented accuracy.


The Solar facility consists of three complementary science instruments, Solar Variable and Irradiance Monitor (SOVIM), SOLar SPECtral Irradiance Measurements (SOLSPEC) and SOLar Auto-Calibrating Extreme UV/UV Spectrometers (SOLACES) which monitor the solar flux in different wavelengths varying between 17 nanometers and 100 micrometers.



Solar consists of three instruments complementing each other to allow measurements of the solar spectral irradiance throughout virtually the whole electromagnetic spectrum, from 17 nanometers to 100 micrometers, in which 99% of the solar energy is emitted. The scientific instruments are:

Solar Variable and Irradiance Monitor (SOVIM) covers near-ultraviolet, visible and thermal regions of the spectrum (200 nanometers – 100 micrometers).


SOLar SPECtral Irradiance Measurements (SOLSPEC) covers the 180 nanometer – 3000 nanometer range with high spectral resolution.


SOLar Auto-Calibrating Extreme UV/UV Spectrometers (SOLACES) measures the EUV/UV spectral regime (17 nanometers – 220 nanometers) with moderate spectral resolution.

The Solar instruments are mounted on a Coarse Pointing Device (CPD) for Sun pointing and are controlled by a Control Unit. The CPD is the support equipment, mounted on the Columbus External Payload Adapter (CEPA), which accommodates the instruments and provides this pointing capability.


Facility Operations

Solar will be transported to the ISS aboard the Space Shuttle, STS-122/1E. Following checkout of the Columbus module an EVA will be performed to attach Solar to the EPF outside of Columbus. Once the Solar is installed and checked out, the science operations will begin. Following installation on the ISS, Solar will operate continuously for approximately 1.5 years.


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