3.1 PRACTICAL EXERCISE 1: Model of the SOHO space-based solar observatory.

This activity is suitable for students from grades 6 to 8.


The students will learn about and make a model of the solar space observatory SOHO.

Information for the teacher and the students

About SOHO.

SOHO (The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a joint international space mission carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is part of the larger International Solar-Terrestrial Physics program (ISTP).

SOHO’s major goal is to enable scientists to solve some of the most perplexing riddles about the Sun, including the internal structure of the Sun, the heating of its extensive outer atmosphere, and the origin of the solar wind.

SOHO was launched by an Atlas-Centaur rocket on December 2, 1995, and is one of the most ambitious space study missions to date. Its sophisticated array of twelve instruments was

developed by European and American scientists. Large engineering teams and hundreds of scientists from many countries support the operations and analysis. Large radio dishes around the world, which form NASA's Deep Space Network, are used to track the spacecraft beyond the Earth's orbit. Mission control is based at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. SOHO’s uninterrupted view of the Sun is achieved by positioning it at a permanent vantage point 1.6 million kilometers sunward of the Earth, where the gravitational forces of the Earth and Sun keep SOHO in an orbit locked onto the Sun-Earth line. By observing the Sun continuously for over five years and sending back millions of images and far ranging data, SOHO is helping us to understand the interactions between the Sun and the Earth's environment better than ever before.

More about SOHO, as well as some interesting and beautiful images of the Sun, made with SOHO and its instruments, can be found at: https://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

The model:

The paper model (pages 2-4) of the attached soho_model_eng.pdf can be printed in color or black and white on 8.5 x 11 inch paper and assembled in about 25 minutes. A heavier stock paper will make the model sturdier but is not necessary.

A page of images of SOHO is included so you can get an idea of what it really looks like, a photo of the completed model, and two SOHO images of the Sun.

The last page shows the 12 instruments on SOHO, what they do, and roughly where they can be found on the model. (Not all instruments could be represented.)

Other necessary materials

Glue, scissors, a toothpick, and an optional piece of clay for the base.

Instructions for assembling the model

The places where you need yo fold the paper are marked in red. You need to carefully cut out each element along its contours, which can be either dashed or continuous lines. Some instructions are written on the elements themselves, so read carefully.

The large element on p. 2 needs to be cut out, folded in the shown way and glued together, It represents the solar panels. SOHO’s body – the large black element on p. 3 needs to be cut out and glued together to form a box, which can then be glued to the solar panels element in the given way.

The elements, marked with the capital letters A, B, C, D, E, F and G, need to form rectangular boxes (except A, which is cylindrical). When ready, they must be glued to the body of SOHO in the places, marked with the same letters. Make sure to orient them with the correct side up. Use the picture of the assembled model on p. 5 for reference.