Solar Cruiser

Summary

Solar Cruiser
Mission typeTechnology, Heliophysics
OperatorNASA
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeSolar sail
DimensionsSail: 1,672 m2 (18,000 sq ft)
Start of mission
Launch dateFebruary 2025 (planned) [1]
RocketFalcon 9 Block 5
Launch siteCape Canaveral, SLC-40
ContractorSpaceX
Sun orbiter
Orbital parameters
InclinationPolar
Instruments
Coronagraph
 

Solar Cruiser is a planned NASA spacecraft that will study the Sun while propelled by a solar sail.[2][3] The mission will support NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program by studying how interplanetary space changes in response to the constant outpouring of energy and particles from the Sun and how it interacts with planetary atmospheres.[3] It is currently planned to launch in February 2025.[1]

The principal investigator is Les Johnson at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.[3]

Overview

The mission was selected for launch, riding with NASA's Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) and Global Lyman-alpha Imagers of the Dynamic Exosphere (GLIDE).[2] The Solar Cruiser spacecraft will demonstrate solar sailing around the Sun at an unusual polar orbit, while its coronagraph instrument would enable simultaneous measurements of the Sun's magnetic field structure and velocity of coronal mass ejections.[3] The craft's nearly 1,672 m2 (18,000 sq ft) solar sail will demonstrate the ability to use solar radiation as propulsion and facilitate views of the Sun not easily accessible with current technology, such as a close-up view of its poles.[3][4]

Solar Cruiser was awarded US$65 million for mission execution. Previously, US$400,000 for nine-month mission concept studies was presented to the Heliophysics Solar Terrestrial Probes program, which is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.[2][3]

References

  1. ^ a b Fox, Karen (11 December 2020). "NASA Adjusts IMAP Schedule to Accommodate COVID-19 Precautions". NASA. Retrieved 14 December 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c "NASA Selects Heliophysics Missions of Opportunity for Space Science Research and Technology Demonstration" (Press release). NASA. 3 December 2020. Retrieved 12 December 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "NASA Selects Proposals to Demonstrate SmallSat Technologies to Study Interplanetary Space" (Press release). NASA. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "In 2024, our Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe will launch with two other science missions and a technology demonstration..." NASA. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.