The Heliospheric Imagers Onboard the STEREO Mission
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- Eyles, C.J., Harrison, R.A., Davis, C.J. et al. Sol Phys (2009) 254: 387. doi:10.1007/s11207-008-9299-0
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Mounted on the sides of two widely separated spacecraft, the two Heliospheric Imager (HI) instruments onboard NASA’s STEREO mission view, for the first time, the space between the Sun and Earth. These instruments are wide-angle visible-light imagers that incorporate sufficient baffling to eliminate scattered light to the extent that the passage of solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) through the heliosphere can be detected. Each HI instrument comprises two cameras, HI-1 and HI-2, which have 20° and 70° fields of view and are off-pointed from the Sun direction by 14.0° and 53.7°, respectively, with their optical axes aligned in the ecliptic plane. This arrangement provides coverage over solar elongation angles from 4.0° to 88.7° at the viewpoints of the two spacecraft, thereby allowing the observation of Earth-directed CMEs along the Sun – Earth line to the vicinity of the Earth and beyond. Given the two separated platforms, this also presents the first opportunity to view the structure and evolution of CMEs in three dimensions. The STEREO spacecraft were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in late October 2006, and the HI instruments have been performing scientific observations since early 2007. The design, development, manufacture, and calibration of these unique instruments are reviewed in this paper. Mission operations, including the initial commissioning phase and the science operations phase, are described. Data processing and analysis procedures are briefly discussed, and ground-test results and in-orbit observations are used to demonstrate that the performance of the instruments meets the original scientific requirements.