NASA Selects Mission to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms (Photo Credit: NASA)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Monday selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms, also known as solar particle storms, into planetary space. Studying solar particle storms will help NASA understand how our solar system works. It will further help NASA protecting astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars.
Known as Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), the new mission is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope. SunRISE is expected to be launched on July 1, 2023. SunRISE is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
Director of NASA's Heliophysics Division Nicky Fox said, "We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets." "The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts," Nicky added.
In a statement, NASA said, "The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats – each about the size of a toaster oven – to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via agency’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 added.
"SunRISE proposed an approach for access to space as a hosted rideshare on a commercial satellite provided by Maxar of Westminster, Colorado, and built with a Payload Orbital Delivery System, or PODS. Once in orbit, the host spacecraft will deploy the six SunRISE spacecraft and then continue its prime mission," the US Space agency noted.
(With NASA Inputs)