The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) mission that is also part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program, was launched on December 2, 1995. SOHO carries a complement of 12 instruments for the recording of high quality images and spectra of solar phenomena as well as sensors for the study of the solar wind as it arrives in near-Earth space. The SOHO spacecraft has successfully taken up a "halo orbit" around the L1 libration point located about 1% of the way from the Earth to the Sun. In this orbit it will have a view of the Sun uninterrupted by the Earth's shadow, which has been a disadvantage for previous solar observing platforms. (For more information about the mission, World Wide Web (WWW) users may peruse the SOHO Home Page at URL http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/. An image of the SOHO spacecraft can be accessed at http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/gif/artist-FM.gif.)
The SOHO mission is carried out at Goddard Space Flight Center by personnel in the Experiment Operations Facility (EOF, where detailed operational activities go on) and in the Experiment Analysis Facility (EAF, where the data archive resides and where science planning and collaborations are carried on). The EAF is co-located with other ISTP mission personnel (e.g., Global Geospace Science [GGS]), downstairs in the Goddard building also occupied by the Space Science Data Operations Office (SSDOO) including NSSDC. This proximity facilitates close cooperation between the SOHO archive and SSDOO personnel.
Dr. David Batchelor of the Space Physics Data Facility in SSDOO, who serves as solar acquisition scientist for the NSSDC, provided technical and solar discipline-specific support for the SOHO operations center when the mission began. This included manning the telemetry data stream console and assistance in proofreading the many WWW pages constructed in preparation for the mission.
The SOHO mission is making unprecedented use of the WWW to provide access to the coming mission data and to documentation and analysis software, for principal and guest investigator teams and for other data users. Browse and archive data will soon be available to users who start at the above URL for the SOHO Home Page. Already sample images from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) can be found on the Solar Data Analysis Center (http://umbra.nascom.nasa.gov/). Interested persons may expect to find many exciting new views of the Sun at the SOHO Home Page probably by the time this article is published.