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NASA’s move to understand space weather at a deeper level

NASA inches closer to the understanding of the space weather resulting from the effects of the sun with relation to the earth and the edges of the solar system. Three distinct proposals, driven by thoughtful concepts, kick off the mission to test various parts of the space weather system, vital in predicting the effects it can have on spacecraft and astronauts. The 2024-vision to send the first woman and the next man to the moon gets the proposal activities going at NASA.

With extensive research activities carried out in NASA, the distinctive proposals enable a thorough understanding of the space traversed in real-time, while exploring key findings across a vast journey in space. Peg Luce, the deputy director for Heliophysics in the Science Mission Directorate,spoke strongly in favour of the proposals from NASA Headquarters in Washington, signifying their prominence with a unique perspective, essential in understanding the advanced weather system.

An investment worth its amount

Each proposal is worth $400,000, covering a comprehensive nine-month mission, including a detailed study of dynamic concepts concerning the physical connections between the sun and the solar system. After the initial research and test phase, a proposal will make its way for launching with other proposals in line with separate time frames.

Every proposal undergoes a thorough feasibility test, backed by NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers’ Program, for further expansion with a potential science value. The program funds the missions with a cap at $55 million.

NASA’s proposals for concept studies of missions to understand space weather include:

EUVST: Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission

The proposal makes every effort to provide answers to fundamental queries in solar physics surrounding the magnetic fields, eruptions, solar flares and others. The mission will launch in collaboration with Japan’s Solar-C mission in 2025. The mission will conduct an extensive study across the lower solar atmosphere, covering and reporting the findings of magnetic fields and plasma interactions. The study will further enable a deeper understanding of the dynamic atmosphere surrounding the sun.

AETHER: Aeronomy at Earth: Tools for Heliophysics Exploration and Research

The ionosphere-thermosphere layer of atmosphere causing photoionization of molecules and its reaction to geomagnetic storms caused by solar winds will be observed keenly by AETHER. The observation includes the study of electrons in the lower regions of earth’s atmosphere and how they react with neutral and ionosphere-charged particles. AETHER will launch in 2024 and develop an understanding of the complex weather system surrounding the planet.

EZIE: Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer

The mission will include an electric current circling the atmosphere 60-90 miles above the earth, at the poles. The electrojets will be used to observe the magnetic fields, their causes and appearance. Their study about formation and growth helps predict geomagnetic storms that can interfere with spacecraft caused by oscillations in earth’s magnetic field. This mission is expected to launch in 2024.

These proposals will create history in NASA’s Heliophysics exploration program, while creating opportunities to probe deeper into the all-round study and observation of space weather systems.