MUSE & HelioSwarm, NASA's new missions to explore Sun

Jay Kakade
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Solar Flares 
 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have selected two space missions HelioSwarm and Multi-slit Solar Explorer (MUSE). This mission will help in better understanding Sun, Connection between Sun and Earth and Sun's environment. It will also provide us with better insights on our space and universe which will help us in protecting astronauts, satellites, Communicating devices and Space stations.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters said, “MUSE and HelioSwarm will provide new and deeper insight into the solar atmosphere and space weather. These missions not only extend the science of our other Heliophysics missions—they also provide a unique perspective and a novel approach to understanding the mysteries of our star.”

Multi-slit Solar Explorer (MUSE)

MUSE mission will prove to be beneficial for astronauts in understanding reasons and forces of Sun’s Corona heating and eruptions in outermost region us Sun. MUSE mission uses powerful multi-slit spectrometer to provide better view of space atmosphere. It will be able to capture high quality images of Sun and also observe Sun’s ultraviolet radiations.

According to Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA, MUSE will help us to gather crucial information about Earth-Sun connection with better insights on solar atmosphere and also contribute to other studies like ground-based observatories and high spectrographic telescope.

Multi-slit Solar Explorer has given a primary mission to find out causes for Corona heating and instabilities like Solar storms, coronal mass ejection etc. MUSE will be able to study plasma properties of sun’s corona. While MUSE capturing high resolution images of Sun, it will more focus on solar flares and active region of Sun.

Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (LMATC) of Palo Alto will be primary investigator and provide project management. MUSE has budget of $192 Million.

Solar Flares
Illustration showing Solar Storms. (Image Credits: NASA/SDO)

Related Article: Solar Storms destroys 40 SpaceX Satellites

HelioSwarm

HelioSwarm mission is a group of nine spacecrafts that will measure Fluctuation in magnetic fields and motions of Solar winds known as Solar wind turbulence.

Heliosphere is outermost layer of Sun’s atmosphere. Solar winds spread through this region and reaches enormous regions of space and interact with planetary magnetosphere. HelioSwarm is all set to capture this interaction.

To study solar winds turbulence there is need for plasma measurement from different regions. For this, HelioSwarm consists of one spacecraft and other eight satellites situated at distances away from each other. The hub spacecraft will be head of monitoring contacting this small satellites. Hub spacecraft is most important in conducting radio communication with Earth.

According to Peg Luce, deputy director of the Heliophysics Division, the new technological innovation of HelioSwarm that operates hub spacecraft and satellites as a group will provide us with high ability observing turbulences and studying solar flares.

Budget of HelioSwarm is $250 Million and Harlan Spence from the University of New Hampshire is its main investigator. While NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California will provide project management.

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