UNH Developing New Telescope for Solar Orbiter, a Joint European Space Agency/NASA Mission

UNH Developing New Telescope for Solar Orbiter, a Joint European Space Agency/NASA Mission

Nov 26, 2012

A telescope currently being developed by a UNH team for the Solar Orbiter mission is based on one built at UNH and currently aboard NASA's twin Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft.

Research professor Antoinette Galvin leads the UNH team developing the Ion Composition Time-of-Flight/Energy Telescope that will be part of the Heavy Ion Sensor. The work is being done under a $4.67 million subcontract from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)—lead institution for the sensor aboard the joint European Space Agency/NASA mission. Professor Lynn Kistler is a co-investigator and is responsible for making sure all UNH hardware is designed to meet mission science requirements.

The UNH telescope is not an optical telescope but, rather, a detector that can measure individual, high-energy particles. It's at the very heart of the mission because it will measure—closer to the source than ever before—the particles that explode directly off the sun to create the million-mile-per-hour solar wind, which in turn creates the "space weather" conditions that impact satellites, power grids, communications, navigation, and many other technological systems.

The Solar Orbiter, set to launch in 2017 with the UNH instrument on board, will use a series of gravitational slingshots around Venus to get closer to the sun than ever before.  The mission will address the question: how does the sun create and control the heliosphere—the immense magnetic bubble containing our solar system, solar wind, and the entire solar magnetic field.

Full article

Bookmark and Share