NASA selects new mission to study giant solar particle storms

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-01 14:33:16|Editor: huaxia

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Xinhua) -- NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms, known as solar particle storms, into planetary space, according to the latest release of NASA earlier this week.

The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), will help understand how the solar system works to protect astronauts traveling in space by providing better information on how the Sun's radiation affects the space environment, said the release.

"We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets," said Nicky Fox, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division.

"The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts," the director added.

The mission design relies on six miniature satellites (CubeSats) -- each about the size of a toaster oven -- to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity, and share them via NASA Deep Space Network -- NASA's international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions.

The six CubeSats, operating as one very large radio telescope, will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve, which will, for the first time, map the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space, according to NASA.

The agency has earmarked 62.6 million U.S. dollars for designing, building and launching SunRISE no earlier than July 1, 2023.