The sun does more for us than you might think, and that’s saying a lot. We all know that it provides for all life on our planet, but not everyone pays attention to the work it’s doing beyond our world. The sun emits charged solar particles and magnetic fields that make a ‘bubble’, called the heliosphere, around us and other planets in our solar system; protecting us from space radiation. NASA is sending a probe to learn more about that bubble.
NASA will launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), to take a look at what the heliosphere actually does, and what radiation is able to penetrate it. From a gravitationally stable spot in space about 930,000 miles sunward from Earth, IMAP will collect fast-moving deep space radiation particles that get into our solar system and study them.
Space.com reported Sunday. Dennis Andrucyk, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement Friday (June 1). “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.” He added, “The implications of this research could reach well beyond the consideration of Earthly impacts as we look to send humans into deep space.”
The estimated cost of this mission is $492 million. That does not include the cost of launching the probe. IMAP will launch in 2024.