STEREO is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. on the evening of Wednesday, October 25 aboard a Delta II rocket. The launch window extends from 8:38 - 8:53 p.m. EDT.
The mission is comprised of two nearly identical spacecraft the size of golf carts. Their observations will enable scientists to construct the first-ever three-dimensional views of the sun. These images will show the sun's stormy environment and its effect on the inner solar system. The data are vital for understanding how the sun creates space weather.
During the two-year mission, the two spacecraft will explore the origin, evolution and interplanetary consequences of coronal mass ejections, some of the most violent explosions in our solar system. When directed at Earth, these billion-ton eruptions can produce spectacular aurora and disrupt satellites, radio communications and power systems. Energetic particles associated with these solar eruptions permeate the entire solar system and may be hazardous to spacecraft and astronauts.
The UNH component of the mission is called the PLAsma and Supra-Thermal Ion Composition (PLASTIC) investigation and will provide plasma characteristics of protons, alpha particles and heavy ions. Solar wind protons and alpha particles constitute most of the mass in the solar wind and are therefore the primary components exerting kinetic pressure on the Earth’s magnetosphere – one of the drivers for space weather.
PLASTIC is the primary sensor on STEREO for studying coronal-solar wind and solar wind-heliospheric processes. The PLASTIC investigation is an international collaborative effort by the UNH (lead institution), the University of Bern, the University of Kiel, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
UNH’s lead scientist for PLASTIC is associate research professor Antionette “Toni” Galvin. “The NASA STEREO mission, for the first time, will routinely take images of the extended solar atmosphere with remote imaging instruments on one STEREO spacecraft, while taking direct samples of the same solar wind parcel as it flows by the other STEREO spacecraft,” Galvin said. “STEREO is opening a new era in our understanding of the sun and its influence on the Earth.”
The solar wind is a continuous stream of charged particles that come from the sun and carry its extended atmosphere and magnetic field. Traveling at more than a million miles per hour, the solar wind fills interplanetary space and creates space weather. The composition of the solar wind provides a means of identifying and characterizing the source regions on the sun that are emitting these particles – a process that is essential in the forecasting of certain types of space weather.
"In terms of space-weather forecasting, we're where weather forecasters were in the 1950s," said Michael Kaiser, STEREO project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "They didn't see hurricanes until the rain clouds were right above them. In our case, we can see storms leaving the sun, but we have to make guesses and use models to figure out if and when they will impact Earth."
To obtain their unique stereo view of the sun, the two observatories must be placed in different orbits, where they are offset from each other and Earth. Spacecraft "A" will be in an orbit moving ahead of Earth, and "B" will lag behind, as the planet orbits the sun.
Just as the slight offset between eyes provides depth perception, this placement will allow the STEREO observatories to obtain 3-D images of the sun. The arrangement also allows the spacecraft to take local particle and magnetic field measurements of the solar wind as it flows by the spacecraft.
STEREO is the first NASA mission to use separate lunar swingbys to place two observatories into vastly different orbits around the sun. The observatories will fly in “phasing” orbits from a point close to Earth to one that extends just beyond the moon.
Approximately two months after launch, mission operations personnel at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., will use a close flyby of the moon to modify the orbits. The moon's gravity will be used to direct one observatory to its position trailing Earth. Approximately one month later, the second observatory will be redirected after another lunar swingby to its position ahead of Earth. These maneuvers will enable the spacecraft to take permanent orbits around the sun.
Each STEREO spacecraft has four scientific investigations, one of which is PLASTIC. The observatories have imaging telescopes and equipment to measure solar wind particles and to perform radio astronomy.
"STEREO is charting new territory for science research and the building of spacecraft. The simultaneous assembly, integration and launch of nearly identical observatories have been an extraordinary challenge," said Nick Chrissotimos, STEREO project manager at Goddard.
The STEREO mission is managed by Goddard. The Applied Physics Laboratory designed and built the spacecraft. The laboratory will maintain command and control of the observatories throughout the mission, while NASA tracks and receives the data, determines the orbit of the satellites, and coordinates the science results.
“We look forward to a wonderfully productive STEREO mission in which students at UNH will have an opportunity to work at the forefront of solar research,” said Roy Torbert, director of the UNH Space Science Center.
For more information about STEREO and a gallery of images, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stereo.
Editors and reporters: Toni Galvin, principal investigator for PLASTIC, and project research scientist Mark Popecki can be reached directly via the following means: Galvin: cell phone – (603)-661-9212; E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org; office – (603) 862-3511 or -0022 (secretary); Popecki: cell phone – (603) 767- 4464; E-mail –email@example.com; office – (603) 862-2957.
Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences