Hinode is an international mission to study our nearest star, the Sun.
Hinode explores the magnetic fields of the Sun in order to improve understanding of what powers the solar atmosphere and drives solar eruptions. Hinode’s Solar Optical Telescope is the first space-borne instrument to measure the strength and direction of the Sun’s magnetic field on the Sun’s surface, the photosphere. Combined with two other Hinode instruments, the EUV imaging spectrometer, or EIS, and the X-ray/EUV telescope, or XRT, the mission is designed to understand the causes of eruptions in the solar atmosphere and relate those eruptions to the intense heating of the corona and the mechanisms that drive the constant outflow of solar radiation, the solar wind.
Hinode follows a Sun-synchronous orbit around Earth at an altitude of nearly 400 miles (a little under 650 km). Its orbit allows Hinode to observe the Sun continuously for nine months at a time. During the summer (in the northern hemisphere) Hinode experiences an “eclipse season” during which the Sun is eclipsed by Earth for a maximum of ten minutes in each 98-minute orbit.
Launched on a Japanese M-V rocket out of Kagoshima, Japan, on September 23, 2006, Hinode is led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. The Hinode mission is a collaboration between the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Hinode is expected to continue into 2022 after being extended in 2020.