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Current Affairs

NASA’s mission to study giant Solar particle storms

Date: 31 March 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms, known as solar particle storms, into planetary space.

 

Background

Such information will improve understanding of how our solar system works and can ultimately help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

 

Details

  • The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope.

  • NASA chose SunRISE in August 2017 as one of two Mission of Opportunity proposals to conduct an 11-month mission concept study.

  • The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.

  • The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe.

  • Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space.

  • This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation. The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space.

  • NASA’s Missions of Opportunity maximize science return by pairing new, relatively inexpensive missions with launches on spacecraft already approved and preparing to go into space.