Special Guest: Dr. Justin Kasper, SunRISE Principal Investigator

Dr. Justin Kasper, SunRISE Principal Investigator

NASA has just selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms into space. The new mission is called SunRISE, which stands for Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment. This mission will ultimately help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

The principal investigator of SunRISE, Dr. Justin Kasper, joins us to discuss this incredible mission. Justin is also a professor of Space Science & Engineering for the University of Michigan, where he designs sensors for spacecraft that explore extreme environments in space from the surface of the Sun to the outer edges of the solar system.

SunRISE is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.

NASA chose SunRISE in August 2017 as one of two Mission of Opportunity proposals to conduct an 11-month mission concept study. In February 2019, the agency approved a continued formulation study of the mission for an additional year. SunRISE is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats – each about the size of a toaster oven – to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network. The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe. Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation. The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space.

For more information visit https://www.nasa.gov/sunearth

Special thanks to Stacey David Severn of StarTalk Radio for sharing her space journey!

Visuals: NASA

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