SwRI energetic particle instruments selected for Solar Probe Plus mission

Sep 03, 2010

NASA selected two instruments led by Southwest Research Institute, which measure energetic particles for the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, slated to launch by 2018. This first-ever journey into the Sun's outer atmosphere - called the corona - will seek to answer two of the biggest mysteries in heliophysics: why the Sun's corona is so much hotter than its inner regions, and how the solar wind is accelerated. The answers to these questions can be obtained only through in-situ measurements down in the corona.

"Solar Probe Plus will be a historic mission and we are really excited to be providing complete measurements of the energetic particles" said Dr. Dave McComas, an assistant vice president of SwRI' Space Science and Engineering Division who chaired NASA's Solar Probe Plus Science and Technology Definition Team. McComas will serve as principal investigator for the energetic particle instrument suite - the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISIS). "These measurements will let us finally determine the sources and acceleration mechanisms of solar energetic particles that are dangerous for human space explorers and can adversely affect our highly technology-based lives here on Earth."

The energetic particle instruments will measure key properties of the accelerated particles ejected from the Sun. The ISIS low energy instrument measures the composition and intensities of protons and heavy elements as well as in multiple directions at the lower energies where the acceleration processes begin, while the ISIS high energy instrument measures the energy spectra, composition, and angular distributions of protons, heavy elements and electrons at the higher, more hazardous energies.

By making the first-ever direct measurements of the near-Sun regions where the acceleration takes place, the SwRI-led instruments will provide critical data that, when integrated with other solar and interplanetary processes, will lead to a better understanding of Sun and solar system space weather. Understanding the connections between the Sun and its planets will provide insight into the impact of solar activity on humans, technological systems and even the presence of life itself in the universe.

Solar Probe Plus will determine the structure and dynamics of the Sun's magnetic field, investigate how the solar atmosphere is heated and accelerated to produce the solar wind, and explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport high energy particles from the solar atmosphere to the edge of the solar system. During the height of solar activity, which occurs roughly once every 11 years, processes such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections release huge quantities of energized matter, magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation into space. These high-energy particles, known as solar energetic particles, present a serious radiation threat to human explorers living and working outside low-Earth orbit, to technological assets in space such as communications satellites and to the electric power transmission grids on the ground. Developing a way to forecast hazardous space weather is one of the major scientific goals of NASA and the Solar Probe Plus mission.

SwRI is partnering with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to produce the low-energy instrument, and the team producing the higher energy instrument includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech and Goddard Space Flight Center.

Explore further: SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies (Update 2)

More information: solarprobe.gsfc.nasa.gov/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SPICE mission to explore the center of the solar system

Mar 22, 2009

An imaging coronal spectrograph called SPICE (Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment), designed by scientists and engineers at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder has been selected by ESA and NASA ...

Satellites Will Improve Understanding of the Sun

Aug 17, 2006

NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission will dramatically improve understanding of the powerful solar eruptions that can send more than a billion tons of the sun's outer atmosphere hurtling into ...

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

Apr 18, 2014

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010


Space station, The Sun and the galactic center are in the same line.

Sun in the middle

Certain atoms halve faster than normal.

More massive particles than neutrinos and yet smaller particles (thickness increases) will come from galactic center.

When they move through Sun, (after that) they interact strongly with the nuclei of atoms and thus they can be detected divided faster than n.ormal (half-life is shorter than normal).

1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010
Is it so, that new massive neutriinos coming out of sun are seeds of a substance in a galaxy that is one size smaller? When they come out of the sun, they already are far away from each other and so the so called
Inflation-theory is not necessary.

Quasars, that is to say one size smaller substance´s intensive optical phenomenons arise in a corona area. The giant black holes in the centre of the new galaxies receive hits from the photons ( or energy what photons and neutriinos emit )coming towards the sun. Above all from the energywaves that open up from them and have had time to arise stars that are one size smaller substance.

Also the old photon or neutriinos centres that past the sun receive hits to themselves. This is how they explode more of their energy away from the sun and this is how the light bends while passing for example the sun.


More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...