NASA to launch two new missions to study the Sun and its connection to Earth and explore the solar system while the European Space Agency (ESA) has selected a cometary explorer. One of the chosen mission will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system – PUNCH and a second will study Earth’s response – Tracers NASA said.
The Sun produces a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can produce a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather. The more we get an understanding on what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects — including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis program to the Moon.
The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH, the mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind, according to NASA. Composed of four satellites, PUNCH will capture the image and track the solar wind as it leaves the Sun.
The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. It will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region — the region encircling Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down towards Earth.
NASA will announce about its new mission during a live broadcast of NASA science at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 27. It will be aired on NASA’s Facebook page, website, YouTube, and USTREAM. Interested to know more? Simply ask questions during the live event using the hashtag #askNASA on Facebook, Periscope, or YouTube. NASA to also hold a media teleconference at 5 p.m.