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The TRACE spacecraft mated to the Pegasus XL rocket on which it will be launched.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

TRACING the Sun...
News story originally written on April 2, 1998

The TRACE spacecraft was launched April 1st at 9:42 p.m. EST from the central California coast. TRACE stands for Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (try saying that fast three times!).

This spacecraft has four telescopes on it. The telescopes will focus in on the transition region of the Sun, that region between the cool surface (only 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit!) and the corona where temperatures are as much as 16 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The TRACE is being launched just in time for the solar cycle to reach its peak. TRACE joins a fleet of spacecraft studying the Sun during this active time (like the ACE and Ulysses spacecraft).

TRACE, which costs $49 million, is the third spacecraft in the Small Explorer series of small, relatively low-cost missions.

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