NASA Announces Two New Solar Exploration Missions
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that it has selected two science missions to help improve human understanding of the dynamics of the sun, the sun-Earth connection, and the constantly changing space environment. The Multi-Slit Solar Explorer and HelioSwarm missions are intended to supply scientists with a greater understanding of the universe and offer critical information to help protect astronauts, satellites and communications signals such as GPS, NASA said Friday.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, said MUSE and HelioSwarm were designed to give researchers fresh insights into the solar atmosphere and weather in hopes of informing future space missions. Aside from extending the science of the space agency’s other heliophysics missions, the twin missions can potentially provide a “eureka moment” in the scientific community’s quest to understand the mysteries of Earth’s star.
In a statement, NASA described the MUSE mission as an effort to examine the forces driving the heating of the Sun’s corona and the eruptions in that outermost region that are at the foundation of space weather. If successful, MUSE promises to deliver deeper insight into the physics of the solar atmosphere by using a powerful instrument known as a multi-slit spectrometer to observe the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet radiation and obtain the highest resolution images ever captured of the solar transition region and the corona.
Meanwhile, HelioSwarm will see the launch of nine spacecraft to form a “swarm” designed to capture the first multiscale in-space measurements of solar wind turbulence – which were described as fluctuations in the magnetic field and motions of the solar wind. HelioSwarm consists of one hub spacecraft and eight co-orbiting small satellites positioned at varying distances from the hub spacecraft. All communications between the swarm and Earth will be conducted through the hub spacecraft and the Deep Space Network of spacecraft communication antennas, NASA explained.
Tags: HelioSwarm Multi-slit Solar Explorer MUSE NASA Nicola Fox Peg Luce space