On solar radius measurements with PICARD
Monday, 15 December 2014
Solar diameter measurements performed from the ground for several decades seem to indicate a relation between the solar diameter and the solar activity. If this relationship is confirmed, it would be possible to use measurements of solar diameter as a proxy of solar activity in the past since the 1715 solar eclipses, and to use this input for the reconstruction of solar irradiance in climate models. However the interpretation of ground observations is controversial, ground-based measurements being affected by refraction, by atmospheric turbulence, and perhaps by atmospheric aerosols scattering. The only way to be free from atmospheric effects is to measure from space. This is the reason why, since the beginning, the PICARD program included a space and a ground component set up at the Calern site of the Observatoire de la Côte dAzur. During the last 4 years, the PICARD space mission has been used for observing the apparent solar diameter. First results of the astrometry program include a study of the June 2012 Venus transit for solar diameter determination. From this, the value of the solar radius from one astronomical unit was found to be equal to 959.86 arc-seconds at 607.1 nm. However, concerning observed variations in time of the solar radius, instrumental effects affect the results. Space is known to represent a harsh environment for optical instruments. Nevertheless, we can use the PICARD data to monitor the solar radius variation. PICARD aims to perpetuate historical series of the solar radius measurements, in particular during the solar cycle 24. This paper presents solar radius measurements obtained with PICARD.