Fall 2020 Faculty News

HelioSwarm Selected for Phase A

Kudos to Assistant Professor Kristopher Klein, Deputy Principal Investigator for HelioSwarm, on having the mission proposal chosen by NASA as one of five Medium-Class Explorer proposals that will each receive $1.25 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. The proposed missions aim to help improve our understanding of the dynamics of the Sun and the constantly changing space environment with which it interacts around Earth. The information will improve understanding about the universe as well as offer key information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals—such as GPS—in space. Following the study period, NASA will choose up to two proposals to go forward to launch. Each potential mission has a separate launch opportunity and timeframe.

HelioSwarm would observe the solar wind over a wide range of scales to determine the fundamental space physics processes that lead energy from large-scale motion to cascade down to finer scales of particle movement within the plasma that fills space, a process that leads to the heating of such plasma. Using a swarm of nine SmallSat spacecraft, HelioSwarm would gather multi-point measurements and be able to reveal the three-dimensional mechanisms that control the physical processes crucial to understanding our neighborhood in space. Professor Harlan Spence at the University of New Hampshire leads the mission as Principal Investigator.