NASA has selected three teams to design and build science instruments, including advanced imaging systems, for a proposed European-led solar mission.
A magnetic loop above a sunspot region. Image courtesy NASA.
The instruments, with a total value of approximately $81 million, are part of NASA’s Living with a Star Program.
The program tackles solar phenomenon and their relation to “space weather,” including the continuous stream of plasma known as solar wind, as well as the Sun’s periodical release of billions of tons of matter in what are called coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed towards Earth, can cause large magnetic storms in the magnetosphere and the upper atmosphere.
The teams selected are:
*Russell Howard, principal investigator for the Heliospheric Imager instrument, valued at $29.7 million. The team will be funded through an inter-agency agreement with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.
*Donald Hassler, principal investigator for the Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment instrument, valued at $34 million. The team will be funded through a cost plus award fee contract with Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.
*Glenn Mason, co-investigator for the Suprathermal Ion Spectrograph instrument, valued at $17.3 million. Mason will be funded through a current NASA contract with the Applied Physics Laboratory in Columbia, Md.
NASA’s Living with a Star Program is designed to understand how and why the sun varies, how planetary systems respond and the effect on human space and Earth activities. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the program for the agency’s Heliophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The total amount for initial design of the instruments, known as Phase A, is $1.7 million. Each project will need to go through the normal key decision point phases in order to be confirmed for continued funding.
MORE INFO (including video clips):
NASA’s Living With a Star Program lws.gsfc.nasa.gov