NASA to Select Heliophysics Research Payload for IMAP Probe

Jeff Brody

NASA has chosen two research proposals for its heliophysics program that seeks to assess how interstellar particles and radiation from the Sun impact the Earth's atmosphere.

Each proposal will receive $400K to fund a nine-month study under the Heliophysics Science Mission of Opportunity with the aim of discovering ways to better protect humans and technology during space travel, NASA said Wednesday.

NASA will then select one proposal to launch aboard the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe as a secondary payload in support of the Mission of Opportunity program valued at $75M.

The first proposal is called “Spatial/Spectral Imaging of Heliospheric Lyman Alpha“ and involves mapping the sky to identify unique phenomena between the area of the Sun's magnetic influence and the heliopause, or the interstellar boundary. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's Larry Paxton will be the SHILA effort's principal investigator.

Meanwhile, the second proposal, named “Global Lyman-alpha Imagers of the Dynamic Exosphere“, will have a University of Illinois-led team study changes in the Earth's exosphere and potentially discover ways of improving weather forecasts and preventing radio interference while in space. NASA expects to launch IMAP with the selected payload in October 2024.

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