|Mission type||Technology, heliophysics|
|Spacecraft type||Solar sail|
|Dimensions||Sail: 1,672 m2 (18,000 sq ft)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||October 2024 (proposed)|
Solar Cruiser is a proposed NASA spacecraft that would study the Sun while propelled by a solar sail. The mission would support NASA's Heliophysics 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.
If selected for launch, the Solar Cruiser mission would demonstrate solar sailing around the Sun at an unusual polar orbit, while the coronagraph instrument would enable simultaneous measurements of the Sun's magnetic field structure and velocity of coronal mass ejections. A nearly 1,672 m2 (18,000 sq ft) solar sail would 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.
Solar Cruiser was awarded US$400,000 for nine-month mission concept studies to be presented to the Heliophysics Solar Terrestrial Probes program, which is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. If selected for development, it would launch in October 2024 along with the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP).