NASA set to launch satellite to observe sun

Associated Press
File-This undated image provided by NASA shows technicians preparing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. for the launch of NASA’s latest satellite, Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), that will study the sun. The Iris satellite is set to ride into Earth orbit on a rocket, which will be dropped from an airplane flying over the Pacific some 100 miles off California’s central coast Thursday June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/NASA,VAFB, Randy Beaudoin,File)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — NASA is getting ready to launch a satellite to observe a little-studied region of the sun between its surface and atmosphere.

The Iris satellite is set to ride into Earth orbit on a rocket that will be dropped from an airplane over the Pacific some 100 miles off California's coast Thursday evening.

If all goes as planned, Iris will spend two years staring at a region of the sun that lies between the surface and the corona, the glowing white ring visible during eclipses. The goal is to learn more about how this region drives solar wind and to better predict space weather.

Launch was delayed a day so that technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base could restore power to range equipment following an outage.

The mission costs $182 million.