NASA funds five ‘concept mission’ studies to the Sun; two will be chosen to carry out their missions- Technology News, Firstpost

NASA funds five 'concept mission' studies to the Sun; two will be chosen to carry out their missions- Technology News, Firstpost 1

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has decided to fund five proposals for concept studies of missions to understand various aspects and the environment of the Sun. The agency narrowed the proposals down to five based on their potential to expand our current understanding of the universe, help protect astronauts in future missions, and plan future missions more accurately, it said in a statement.

All five shortlisted proposals are Medium-Class Explorer proposals that will receive $1.25 million from NASA to carry out a nine-month mission concept study, the agency said. Following this trial period, NASA will choose a maximum of two proposals to carry out their missions via NASA.

“Each potential mission has a separate launch opportunity and time frame,” the article said.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington stated that they constantly seek missions that use “cutting edge technology” and new approaches to push the boundaries of science.

 NASA funds five concept mission studies to the Sun; two will be chosen to carry out their missions

The Sun, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, pointing to “active regions” on its surface where there are bright spots and illuminated arcs, 20 April 2015. Image credit: NASA/SDO

He mentioned that each one of the proposals offer the chance to study something that has never been seen before or to “provide unprecedented insights” into important areas of research.

The proposals were selected on the basis of their potential for “science value” and “feasibility of development plans”. NASA stated that the cost for the mission that gets chosen ultimately will be capped at $250 million. It will be funded by the Heliophysics Explorers’ program, a wing of NASA that aims to provide “frequent flight opportunities for world-class scientific investigations” in the area of heliophysics and astrophysics science.

Nicky Fox, the director of the Heliophysics Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said that they carefully pick missions to provide sensors throughout the solar system which offer perspectives to understand space that human technology and humans themselves travel through.

SlashGear reported that while one topic focuses on space weather, another deals with the Sun’s corona. Other proposals involve the solar poles, aurora and the space wind.

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