NASA gives nod of approval to two heliophysics missions that will explore Sun, space weather

NASA has said yes to two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and will also observe the system that drives space weather near Earth. As per a statement by NASA, the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission (EUVUST) and Electroject Zeeman Imaging Explorere (EZIE) will help scientists understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system. Scientists are of the opinion that understanding the physics that drive solar wind and solar explosions could in the future help them predict events, which in turn can impact human technology as well as explorers in space.

From the International Space Station’s orbit 269 miles above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, this nighttime photograph captures the aurora australis, or "southern lights." Russia's Soyuz MS-12 crew ship is in the foreground and Progress 72 resupply ship in the background. Credits: NASA

The Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon

The EUVST Mission is led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in partnership with other international organisations. The EUVST is targeting a launch date in 2026. It is a solar telescope that will study how the sun's atmosphere releases solar wind and drives eruptions of solar material.

NASA's hardware contributions to the mission include an intensified UV detector and support electronics, spectrograph components, a guide telescope, software and a slip-jaw imaging system to provide context for the spectrographic measurement.

NASA's budget to the whole mission is $55 million and the principal investigator for the NASA contribution to EUVST is Harry Warren at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.

The Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer

The EZIE, in turn, will study electric currents in Earth's atmosphere linking aurora to the Earth's magnetosphere. The total budget for the EZIE mission is $53.3 million while the principal investigator for the mission is Jeng-Hwa (Sam) Yee at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Speaking about the new missions, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington stated that they are pleased to add the new missions to the growing fleet of satellites that are studying Sun-Earth system, adding that he is particularly excited to follow up the success of the Yohkok and Hinode solar science missions.

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