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11 February 2003 Solar Probe: Mission to the Sun
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The Solar Probe mission is an unprecedented exploration of the inner heliosphere, which will achieve unique science by flying over the pole of the Sun and as close to the Sun's surface, through the solar corona, as is technologically feasible today. It will first travel to Jupiter for a gravity assist, leave the ecliptic plane, fly over the Sun's poles to within 8 solar radii, and reach perihelion over the equator at 4 solar radii. A unique aspect of the Solar Probe orbit is that the trajectory is orthogonal to the Sun-Earth line during perihelion passage so that there is continuous radio contact throughout the flyby. Two perihelion passes are planned, the first near the 2014 solar minimum and the second near the 2019 solar maximum. This orbit ensures that the mission will probe both the high speed solar wind streams and the equatorial low-speed streams. Although NASA recinded the 1999 Solar Probe Announcement of Opportunity (AO 99-OSS-04) in early 2001, Solar Probe is still very much alive and community support for the mission is strong. In the fall of 2001, Congress earmarked $3M for Solar Probe and instructed NASA to consolidate the Solar Probe management within the existing SEC/LWS program. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) is currently reviewing the mission and conducting an Engineering Assessment Study to be released later this year. Both the NRC Decadal Survey Committee and the SEC Roadmap Committee have strongly endorsed Solar Probe and recommended that it be "implemented as soon as possible".
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Donald M. Hassler "Solar Probe: Mission to the Sun", Proc. SPIE 4853, Innovative Telescopes and Instrumentation for Solar Astrophysics, (11 February 2003);


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