The solar X-ray imager (SXI) instrument designed and built by Lockheed Martin at its Space Systems Advanced Technology Center is ready for launch onboard the geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES) scheduled for 26 June 2009.

The SXI is one of a suite of instruments on the GOES, designed to view the sun and gather information about solar activity for understanding sun-related phenomena that affect the Earth’s environment.

The SXI will also be used to aid in issuing forecasts and alerts of space weather conditions.

The instrument will observe solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes and active regions in the X-ray region.

The solar imager will also study flare properties, newly emerging active regions and X-ray bright points on the sun.

The SXI will supply continuous, near real-time observation of the sun’s corona, acquiring a full-disk image every minute that will help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to detect and locate the occurrence of solar flares.

Space weather can affect radio communication on Earth, induce currents in electric power grids and long distance pipelines, cause navigational errors in magnetic guidance systems, upset satellite circuitry and expose astronauts to increased radiation.

Solar flares on the other hand are explosive releases of vast amounts of magnetic energy in the solar atmosphere that can send energetic particles to earth that are hazardous to astronauts and spacecraft.