January 26, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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NASA Targeting the Sun Again With Two Tongue-Twisting Missions – autoevolution

2 min read
The American space agency has a lot on its plate these days. The bulk of its efforts focuses on the Artemis Moon program, but between rocket testing, astronaut training, and budget allocations, it must find time and resources to support other projects as well. After all, NASA is the leader of humanity’s space exploration ambitions.
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One object of particular interest for NASA these past few years has been the Sun. Back in the summer of 2018, an ambitious spacecraft was sent toward the star of our solar system to help people better understand it. Called the Parker Solar Probe, it presently circles the Sun, gathering valuable information right from the corona (not that corona).

But efforts to study the star will not stop there and will get a boost from foreign agencies as well. In the final week of 2020, NASA announced it approved two more such endeavors for this decade. And both have incredible names.

The first is called Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope (EUVST) Epsilon. Don’t worry, there’s a short version for that: Solar-C EUVST. Handled by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), it is a solar telescope that will launch in 2026 to study how the solar atmosphere releases solar wind and drives eruptions of solar material.

The second is called Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE for short, and it is a satellite departing in 2024 to study the electric currents in Earth’s atmosphere linking aurora to the Earth’s magnetosphere. It may not seem like it, but that is part of the space weather system that includes the Sun.

“We are very pleased to add these new missions to the growing fleet of satellites that are studying our Sun-Earth system using an amazing array of unprecedented observational tools,” said in a statement Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“In addition to my enthusiasm at selecting a pioneering multi-point observatory focused on the auroral electrojets, I am particularly excited to follow up the success of the Yohkoh and Hinode solar science missions with another international collaboration with JAXA and other European partners on EUVST.”

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