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Last Post 10/31/2014 11:44 AM by  Kris Sigsbee
sun scientists
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10/30/2014 3:41 PM

    cristine h

    what does the future look like for solar science? what other programs, or missions to look forward to? thank you

    Tags: Magnetic Reconnection, Magnetospheric Multiscale, Electron Drift Instrument

    Claire Raftery

    New Member

    New Member

    10/30/2014 5:15 PM
    We are in a very exciting period of solar science. There are two missions that are preparing to be launched that will get closer to the Sun than ever before - they will go almost all the way to the Sun. These instruments called Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter will be built by NASA and the European Space Agency and launched towards the end of this decade. There are many new initiatives in ground based solar observatories also. A radio telescope called EOVSA will be brought online soon. A worldwide network called LOFAR is also starting to look at the sun. So all in all, there is still lots to be doing and the Sun is giving us some great views right now.

    KD Leka

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/30/2014 5:28 PM

    Hi - new missions are coming, and they are always exciting. If you like being a real detective, however, exciting research comes from missions or ground-based instruments that study the Sun over long periods of time, to watch for subtle changes from one cycle to the next, for example. Most of the time even instruments designed to work for a long time do end their lifetime after only 1 or a few solar cycles...but how can we learn about even longer times? Sleuthing to look at historical records in new ways, or reconciling older archived solar data with new instruments is one way that old data can "become" new again, and extremely important interesting questions can be answered regarding our Sun's long-term behavior. Many of the funding agencies are starting to recognize the value of these long-term studies, so there's still a lot to look forward to, even if it's looking back!

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/31/2014 11:44 AM

    Hi Cristine!

    I am currently working on one of the instruments for NASA's upcoming Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), which consists of four satellites. MMS will study a process called magnetic reconnnection in Earth's magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection is very important in the flow of plasma and transport of energy from the solar wind throughout the Earth's magnetosphere. The mission just completed its Pre-Ship Review (PSR) and is now ready to be shipped out to the launch site in Florida. The mission will hopefully be launched sometime in spring 2015.

    The instrument I am working on is called the Electron Drift Instrument (EDI). The EDI is actually part of the MMS FIELDS instrument suite, which has six sensors to measure the electric and magnetic fields in and around reconnection regions. The usual way to measure electric fields in space is to use long wire antennas several meters in length extended out from the body of a spinning satellite. This double-probe antenna method works great for measuring the electric field in the spin plan of the satellite, but does not work very well along the spin axis of the satellite because we can only use short, rigid booms on the spin axis. The EDI, on the other hand, can always measure the component of the electric field perpendicular to the background magnetic field, regardless of where the satellite's spin axis is pointing. Each MMS satellite will have two EDI gun-detector units. The electron gun on one EDI will send out a beam of electrons (coded with a specific pulse pattern) that can be received by the detector optics part of the EDI on the opposite side of the satellite. The time delay and direction of the returning beam can be used with the measured magnetic field to calculate the electric field. The EDI can also be used to observe the naturally occurring electrons observed in Earth's magnetosphere. My job in developing the EDI is to perform computer simulations of the electron detector optics to determine the best voltage settings. I'm really looking forward to watching the MMS mission launch next spring and analyzing the data from the EDI instrument.

    You can read more about FIELDS and the EDI here

    And you can see MMS photos and mission status updates here


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