NASA funds NCAR solar mission

CMEx mission will diagnose the magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere that lead to solar eruptions, solar wind

Oct 2, 2023 - by Staff

NASA has selected four small explorer missions to conduct concept studies. These studies aim to expand knowledge of the dynamics of the Sun and related phenomena, such as coronal mass ejections, aurora, and solar wind to better understand the Sun-Earth connection.

Holly Gilbert, director of the High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is the principal investigator of one of the missions, known as the Chromospheric Magnetism Explorer (CMEx). This mission would attempt to understand the magnetic nature of solar eruptions and identify the magnetic sources of the solar wind. CMEx proposes to obtain the first continuous observations of the solar magnetic field in the chromosphere – the layer of solar atmosphere directly above the photosphere or visible surface of the Sun. These observations would improve our understanding of how the magnetic field on the Sun’s surface connects to the interplanetary magnetic field.

"As humanity becomes increasingly vulnerable to space weather, it is imperative to close in on the observations that will enable more accurate forecasts,” Gilbert said. “Magnetic fields in the Sun's atmosphere are the ultimate driving force behind solar storms. For the first time, CMEx will illuminate a void that other missions have been unable to observe. By quantifying magnetic fields throughout the entire atmospheric volume, CMEx advances the research toward quantitative, observation-based predictions of solar eruptions.

For more information see the NASA press release.

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