NASA plans to build a six-mile (9.66 km) wide telescope in Earth orbit, consisting of six Toaster-sized satellites. The first of these toasters has just been completed.
The Solar Interferometer Space Experiment, or Sunrise, will closely monitor our local star, helping scientists better understand space weather events caused by solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Six “mini-satellites” orbit the Earth in a circular pattern about 22,000 miles (3,540,568 km).
For reference, the Moon is 238,900 miles (384,472 km) from Earth. The James Webb Space TelescopeHis home is located at Lagrange Point 2, about 1 million miles (1,609,344 km) away.
SunRISE’s SmallSats will be linked together to act as a single antenna that detects bursts of radio waves that signal a solar event that could impact human space activities. Justin Casper, principal investigator of Sunrise, said the ultimate goal of the project is to improve understanding of the mechanisms that drive space weather events.
“These high-energy solar particles can threaten unprotected astronauts and technology,” Casper explained. By monitoring the radio bursts associated with these events, we can be better prepared and informed.
Lacking a lens, Sunrise captures images using interferometry — the same principle used by NASA scientists to take photographs of the Event Horizon Telescope. A giant black hole At the center of the Milky Way.
Interferometry works by “creating a group of small telescopes that can focus on the same object at the same time, acting as one giant virtual telescope,” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. explained.
Because it is in orbit, Sunrise has a unique ability among interferometric telescopes to see long radio wavelengths that are normally blocked by Earth’s ionosphere.
These radio wavelengths can help determine the origin of solar radio bursts at sunrise, which will help Earth astronomers understand how early detection of solar energy particles can benefit Earth. NASA said its location would allow the sunrise to map the pattern of reaching space between the solar magnetic field lines.
With the first six satellites completed by the University of Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory, Sunrise has some work to do before its estimated launch date of 2024 — which is uncertain.
As a part of NASA Explorer An opportunity to fund small space projects is the Mission Program, Sunrise To be trusted At a commercial aerospace company Maxar It has to be moved into orbit. Depending on Maxar, SunRISE could launch anytime between April 2024 and September 2025. ®
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