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Celebrating SWAP's first glimpse of the Sun

Twelve years ago today, on 14 december 2009, SWAP laid its eye on the Sun for the first time. After the nerve-racking procedure of opening the instrument door and taking this first image, PROBA2 operators and scientists waited impatiently for this first image to be downloaded from the PROBA2 satellite. Clearly, there was some work to be done on the pointing of the satellite to have the full solar disk in the SWAP field-of-view. Nevertheless, all PROBA2 team members were delighted with this result. It clearly showed that the instrument had endured the launch well, and that the detector and filters were in good shape. In fact, even after 12 years of nearly continuous observations, the SWAP instrument still produces excellent data with little degradation. 

SWAP's first solar image, taken on 14 December 2009.

After this door opening, the science and operations teams worked closely together to fix the pointing and to characterize the SWAP instrument. In January 2010, routine observations for SWAP started. After tests in the dark in late 2009, the three LYRA doors were unlocked and opened on 5 and 6 January 2010 as well. PROBA2 was set for its hugely successful journey to observe the Sun, which is lasting much longer than the originally planned 2-year period!