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Last Post 3/19/2014 11:56 AM by  Lindsay Glesener
Sun missions?
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3/18/2014 7:05 AM

    veronica a

    Is there any other missions planned to study the sun inthe future other than the ones we have currently?

    Tags: sun, Magnetospheric Multiscale, NASA missions, Solar Orbiter, Solar Probe Plus

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/18/2014 9:09 AM

    Hi Veronica!

    Space is a very harsh environment, and spacecraft can experience lots of extremes in temperature and radiation over their lifetimes. The instruments on spacecraft eventually stop working or become obsolete and spacecraft batteries can wear down over time and not provide enough power to keep instruments running. Spacecraft can also run out of fuel for orbital maneuvers too. NASA plans ahead for these things happening, so NASA is always developing and planning new missions to study the Sun, Earth, and the other planets in our Solar System.

    The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission, which will study the interaction between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere, will probably be launched sometime within the next year. My co-workers and I at the University of Iowa are involved with developing an instrument for MMS. Solar Probe Plus is a mission under development to study the Sun's corona, but it won't be launched until 2018. Solar Orbiter is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency that will be launched in 2017.

    Developing new missions is very important, so NASA is constantly seeking input from the scientific community on what the priorities for upcoming missions should be. Every 10 years, the National Research Council (NRC) puts together a Decadal Survey of Solar and Space Physics to guide NASA on the key scientific targets for the next decade and recommends new missions for development. About every 3 years or so, NASA also asks scientists for input into a new Heliophysics Roadmap for the next 20 years of research in solar and space physics. And every 1-3 years, NASA does what we call a Senior Review of the currently operating missions to determine which missions are still capable are returning great science data, and which ones should be retired to make way for development of new missions.


    Paulett Liewer

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/18/2014 9:15 AM

    Hi Veronica,

    A very timely question.

    Just last week NASA approved a new solar mission, Solar Probe Plus, to begin its construction phase to be ready for launch in 2018! This is billed as "the first mission to the nearest star."

    This mission will be in an orbit around the Sun that will go much closer to the Sun than any previous solar within 9 solar radii of the surface.It will study the solar wind, the supersonic stream of charged particle always streaming from the solar atmosphere, in the region where it is being heated and accelerated. There is also a camera on board designed to image solar wind structures as the spacecraft flies through them. You can learn more about the mission at

    I'm excited to be part of the science team for this mission!


    Lindsay Glesener

    New Member

    New Member

    3/19/2014 11:56 AM
    To add to the list, the European Space Agency (ESA) is working on a mission called Solar Orbiter that will also observe the Sun from a much closer viewpoint than that of the Earth. Solar Orbiter will not get as close to the Sun as Solar Probe Plus will; its closest approach will be 60 solar radii, or about a quarter of the distance from the Earth to the Sun. It contains a wide array of instruments, some of which will make direct measurements of space plasma and some of which will take images of the Sun at various wavelengths.
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