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.
The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is an array of six CubeSats (a type of miniaturized satellite/ Nanosatellite for space research) operating as one very large radio telescope.
The SunRISE mission relies on six solar-powered 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’s Deep Space Network. The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe. Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation.
The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space.
NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.
SunRISE proposed an approach for access to space as a hosted rideshare on a commercial satellite provided by Maxar, a space technology company headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, and built with a Payload Orbital Delivery System, or PODS. Once in orbit, the host spacecraft will deploy the six SunRISE spacecraft and then continue its prime mission.
Back in March, NASA invited people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard its historic Parker Solar Probe. Submissions were accepted till April 27.
NASA this week revealed that a total of 1,137,202 names were submitted and confirmed over the seven-and-a-half-week period.
A memory card containing the names was installed on the spacecraft on May 18, the US space agency said.