Complementary Data Software

The RHESSI software tools include stand-alone and integrated packages to retrieve and display data from other missions to provide context for RHESSI observations.

Searching for jointly observed flares

An IDL tool is available to find solar flares jointly observed by GOES, RHESSI, Hinode, SDO, and IRIS. In SSWIDL, type


to start a widget interface from which you can search for flare(s) of different magnitudes and energies that were observed by various combinations of instruments. More information can be found here


Data from multiple generations of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) since 1976 are available. Both X-Ray Sensor (XRS) and Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor (EUVS) (since 2006) data can be accessed through the SSWIDL GOES object. The GOES workbench provides a widget interface to the the GOES object software. You can run the goes software either through the workbench, the IDL command line, or both. The workbench is initiated by typing

goes, g  ; returns the goes object in the variable g

at the SSWIDL command line. For more information please see the GOES IDL User Guide"

Fermi GBM and LAT

Extensive modifications were made to our spectral analysis package, OSPEX, to enable easy retrieval and analysis of FERMI GBM data. Please visit the Fermi Solar Flare Observations page for details. OSPEX can also handle LAT spectrum and response files, however the files are not available publicly and must be requested from the LAT team.


The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft's primary mission was to study Mercury, but it also had a detector pointing at the Sun. It was launched in August 2004, reached orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011, and crashed into the surface of Mercury on April 30, 2015.

The MESSENGER X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) included three gas-filled detectors called the MXU (Mercury X-Ray Unit) pointing at the planet, and one silicon sold-state detector called SAX (Solar Assembly for X-Rays) pointing at the Sun. SAX consists of a cooled, 500 μm thick SiPIN solid-state detector covering the energy range from ~1 to ~10 keV with an energy resolution of 598 eV at 5.9 keV. The time cadence is generally five minutes. The SAX data are collected in an archive and are accessible through OSPEX, a spectral analysis software package.

To analyze MESSENGER SAX data in OSPEX,

  1. Start the OSPEX GUI in SSWIDL, e.g. o=ospex()
  2. Click File / Select Input
  3. On the Select Input widget, click Browse / On remote sites...
  4. On the Select Time or Flare widget, enter the time interval directly, or select a flare from the GBM or RHESSI flare catalogs to select a time
  5. Change Data Type pulldown to MESSENGER
  6. Click Search
  7. The .dat and .lbl files found (if any) that cover your time interval will be displayed and highlighted
  8. Click Accept and Close

The MESSENGER files will be copied to your current working directory. You can now proceed to plot and analyze the data in those files in OSPEX.


  • A pair of files (.dat and .lbl) together provide the XRS SAX data for each day. They are named xrsyyyydoy.dat or .lbl where yyyy is the 4-digit year and doy is the day of year. (You can use date2doy and doy2date in sswidl to convert between doy and a date.)
  • The MESSENGER response matrix is computed, so you don't need to provide a separate response file.
  • Once the data files (both .dat and .lbl) are on your system, you can select them any time by clicking Browse / On this computer.... in the Select Input widget. Only select the .dat file - the .lbl file is assumed to be in the same directory, and will be found automatically.



SOXS, YOHKOH, XSM, Konus-Wind, and SMM/HXRBS data can also be displayed and analyzed in our spectral analysis package, OSPEX .


The SHOW_SYNOP SSWIDL program provides access to GOES, SOHO, TRACE, SDO, STEREO, radio, and other data sets. The program searches remote archives for your selection of time interval and instrument, and presents you with a list of results. You can choose the data set(s) you want, download them, and display them in an interactive plot window (PLOTMAN). SHOW_SYNOP can be run as a stand-alone program by typing


at the SSWIDL command line, or from the RHESSI GUI by clicking File / Retrieve, Process Data / Synoptic....

After displaying any images from the RHESSI GUI or SHOW_SYNOP in PLOTMAN, you can use the PLOTMAN tools to

  • overlay images with each other or with RHESSI images,
  • use the flux tool to define RoIs and compute image flux,
  • use the profile tool to display a profile through an image,
  • generate movies of a series of images, optionally overlaying them with the corresponding (in time) image from a different data set,
  • overlay time profiles with RHESSI time profiles,
  • and more.