NASA's science mission in 2024 will sample, analyse, and map particles streaming to Earth from the edges of interstellar space besides learning more about the generation of cosmic rays in the heliosphere.
The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe a.k.a. the IMAP mission will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, the Space agency said Friday. IMAP was selected following an extensive and competitive peer review of proposals submitted in late 2017.
Heliosphere is the region where the constant flow of particles from our Sun, called the solar wind, collides with material from the rest of the galaxy. This collision limits the amount of harmful cosmic radiation entering the heliosphere.
“This boundary is where our Sun does a great deal to protect us. IMAP is critical to broadening our understanding of how this ‘cosmic filter’ works,” said Dennis Andrucyk, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The implications of this research could reach well beyond the consideration of Earthly impacts as we look to send humans into deep space.”
The spacecraft will be positioned about one million miles (1.5 million kilometres) away from Earth towards the Sun at what is called the first Lagrange point or L1. This will allow the probe to maximise use of its instruments to monitor the interactions between solar wind and the interstellar medium in the outer solar system.
The mission will carry 10 science instruments provided by international and domestic research organisations and universities and is cost-capped at $492 million, excluding cost for the launch vehicle.