NASA Selects Proposals to Advance Understanding of Space Weather


Sept. 3, 2019

RELEASE 19-071

NASA Selects Proposals to Advance Understanding of Space Weather

NASA has chosen three mission proposals for concept studies to help us better understand the dynamic space weather system driven by the Sun that manifests near Earth. One proposal will focus on auroras, as seen in this image captured by the International Space Station on Aug. 6, 2017. Credits: NASA
NASA has chosen three mission proposals for concept studies to help us better understand the dynamic space weather system driven by the Sun that manifests near Earth. One proposal will focus on auroras, as seen in this image captured by the International Space Station on Aug. 6, 2017. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected three proposals for concept studies of missions that could help us better understand the dynamic space weather system driven by the Sun that manifests near Earth. The proposals examine what drives different parts of that system and ultimately could help us predict and mitigate its effects on spacecraft and astronauts, as NASA’s Artemis program looks to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

“NASA’s research to understand the space we travel through relies on exploring key details about a vast system from the Sun, to Earth, to the edges of the solar system,” said Peg Luce, deputy director for heliophysics in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Each of these proposals could add a significant tool from a unique vantage point to help us understand that system.”

Each of these Heliophysics Mission of Opportunity proposals will receive $400,000 to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. After the study period, NASA will choose one proposal to go forward to launch. Each potential mission has a separate launch opportunity and time frame.

The proposals were selected based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans. The total cost for the mission ultimately chosen will be capped at $55 million and is funded by NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers’ program.

The selected proposals are:

Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope (EUVST) Epsilon Mission
EUVST would aim to provide an answer to a fundamental question in solar physics: How does the interplay of solar material – a hot plasma – and magnetic fields drive solar activity and eruptions, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections? The mission would launch with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Solar-C mission, planned for 2025. EUVST would observe simultaneously, for the first time and over a wide range of the lower solar atmosphere, how magnetic fields and plasma interact. Those observations could help us learn more about how the two systems contribute to the dynamic atmosphere around the Sun. The principal investigator for EUVST is Clarence Korendyke at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.

Aeronomy at Earth: Tools for Heliophysics Exploration and Research (AETHER)
AETHER would explore the ionosphere-thermosphere system and its response to geomagnetic storms. From a position aboard the International Space Station, it could gather observations of the ionosphere – the area of our atmosphere that overlaps with the lower regions of space. These observations would be complemented by ground observations of electrons in the same region. The mission would provide information on how the neutral, terrestrial-weather-driven thermosphere interacts with the ionosphere’s charged particles. Understanding how the neutral atmosphere affects the ions and vice versa is key to better understanding the complex space weather system surrounding our planet, which affects spacecraft and astronauts flying through it. The launch of AETHER would be no later than 2024. The principal investigator for AETHER is James Clemmons at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE)

EZIE would focus on an electric current known as the auroral electrojet, which circles through the atmosphere around 60 to 90 miles above Earth, near the poles. Using three SmallSats to measure magnetic fields, EZIE would observe the structure of electrojets and explore what causes them and how they evolve. Electrojets are part of a larger space weather system that can lead to oscillations in Earth’s magnetic fields, creating geomagnetic storms that can interfere with spacecraft and – at their most intense – utility grids on the ground. Knowing how electrojets form and grow could contribute to ultimately predicting such storms. EZIE would launch as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. EZIE also would launch no later than 2024. The principal investigator for EZIE is Jeng-Hwa Yee at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

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Mark Broderick
September 4, 2019 2:38 am

..What ? No more “Make “some people” feel good about themselves” ?
Woo Hoo, NASA doing REAL science again…in space, where they belong…


Krishna Gans
September 4, 2019 2:53 am

Maybe they also will find what of the suns activity drives our climate 😀

Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 4, 2019 3:40 am

Well said Krishna.

As long as NASA believes that increasing atmospheric CO2 is the primary driver of global climate, they have NO chance of getting it right.

Climate Hint-of-the-Day:
CO2 changes lag temperature changes at all measured time scales, and the future cannot cause the past.

The hypothesis that “atmospheric CO2 is the primary control knob of Earth’s climate” is utterly false, utterly ridiculous and would be laughable – if that false hypothesis were not responsible for the squandering of trillions of dollars of scarce global resources, the destruction of many millions of lives and the environmental degradation of large areas of our planet.

The runaway global warming scam is the most costly scientific fraud in the history of humanity. The leaders who promoted this enormous fraud belong in jail.

September 4, 2019 4:52 am

State pen, not Penn State? 😉

September 4, 2019 5:52 am

It would be very difficult to prove fraud in this case because of the 97% and all that BS.

Anyway, it’s costly yes, but is it worse than the USDA diet recommendations that make 10’s of millions diabetic and even more obese? I’m not sure.

Not scientific, but Marx’s theories continue to be more damaging overall.

Reply to  Scissor
September 5, 2019 8:12 am

The USDA diet recs affect a small portion of the 300 million people in the USA.

The global warming scam hurts billions of people AND the environment..

September 4, 2019 3:24 am

They have no idea how the earth’s climate works, what chance is there they’ll understand how space climate works?

Will they find a magic molecule out there they can tax us because it exists?

Reply to  HotScot
September 4, 2019 1:47 pm

Whenever we explore a new area we need to explain it in terms with which we can relate. The term, Space, itself was coined because well…there is a lot of it. They don’t know exactly what to call the ‘environment’ of space. It’s not empty, nor without gravity. And, it is full of sunshine from billions upon billions of stars, coming from all directions. We understand concepts like wind and sunshine, so we for lack of a better term for solar plasma waves and mass ejections we relate them to weather.
Not studying something only proliferates ignorance. Surely there are always those who will abuse knowledge to proclaim power (as is currently ongoing) but with out candles we cannot dispel the darkness.

September 4, 2019 3:35 am

Is this a sly way of saying “we know the sun drives the weather system on earth, so now we need to fully understand how the sun effects all parts of the earth, from top to bottom”?!’.

Reply to  Sunny
September 4, 2019 3:15 pm

Sunny, The sun may drive the climate via inclination (angle) , but Deep inside the Earth drives the weather by putting up a electromagnetic resistance, that’s why it’s hotter at the surface (sea level) then at the top of the atmosphere.

September 4, 2019 4:24 am

I find it very interesting that NASA did not mention any effects the
Sun may have on the weather of the Earth.

Is this a Two Bob each way job. Shades of Faulty Towers perhaps,
“”Don’t mention the weather””


Rhys Jaggar
September 4, 2019 4:28 am

Is it not amazing that NASA could possibly fund studies counter to their biblical diktat that only carbon dioxide is important in controlling climate?

I am sure this is filed under space science, but really: NASA should be removed from all climate on earth studies, merely feeding in data from space studies which is their rightful remit.

Reply to  Rhys Jaggar
September 4, 2019 10:20 am

I must disagree:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The word Aeronautics stemmed from when we could only fly through the atmosphere and NASA (NACA at the time has maintained magisterium over that since it pupated from NACA at the beginning of the space age.
So, they have a very real need to understand how air works, storms and radar, etc.

What also must be noted is the last A in their acronym denotes ‘Administration’.
NASA maintains some very fine testing laboratories, assembly facilities, and launch bases.
NASA does NOT build nor design any of the rockets, satellites or vehicles they slap their logo on.
NASA is a contracting administrator who hires private companies to do all the inventing.

September 4, 2019 6:18 am

After Donald Trump became POTUS, it was a golden opportunity to clean out the NASA pseudo-experts on climate pseudo-science who preached from Obama’s ‘climate change alarmism’ pulpit. It didn’t happen.

Mark Broderick
Reply to  Mervyn
September 4, 2019 7:37 am

That “Swamp” is very deep ! MAGA takes time…

Reply to  Mervyn
September 4, 2019 8:09 am


Why do you think the democrats have been blocking Trump’s appointments for as long as they can. It will take a second term for the momentum to build to drain the swamp.

Reply to  Mervyn
September 4, 2019 8:18 am

It’s very hard for a POTUS to “clean the swamp” of employees below appointment level management. The POTUS has to appoint a person who will take on the task of cleaning out their departments swamp using various methods. This is going to take time and lots of it, the swamp took years (decades) to create and will take years to drain.

This is one of my biggest disappointments with Bush, to the victor goes the spoils of appointment but he left almost all of Clintons appointments in place. When he did appoint someone he didn’t want a fight so would name an appointee he knew the left would accept (RINO’s and left leaning people mostly). That left Obama with 16 years of democrat built swamp to build on when he took office and Trump with 24 years worth of it. That makes for a darn difficult swamp draining.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Mervyn
September 4, 2019 8:29 am

Congress funds and directs the Executive to operate programs and departments even though much of NASA’s work simply because rhey are a “Yobs program” in so many congressional districts and states. The President can’t simply shut down GISS, even as much as that’s what is needed.
Same thing for manned spaced mission to Mars. It’s a huge Yobs program for both NASA and contractors and thus its buys votes for Congress folks from those districts that have a large $$ benefit of the “work.” A colossal waste because we are highly unlikely to solve the Radiation Hazard to humans posed by long duration missions beyond the protective comforts of LEO. Robotic missions are accomplishing far more than the necessary restrictive cumbersome life support and flight rules operations of manned missions ever could. Simply, sending frail human bodies to die on a 800 day mission to Mars will never happen. We’d return a ghost ship with dead astronauts and no more science than robotics could have done for 1/10th the cost.
But NASA is spending billions every year as Yobs programs in the pretend belief that it will happen.

Neil Jordan
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
September 4, 2019 10:10 am

Not necessarily dead but at least visually impaired. High energy cosmic particles leave skid marks on retinas thar are not repaired. Finite number of rods and cones must necessarily decrease.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Neil Jordan
September 4, 2019 12:18 pm

dead or dying with blindness, spontaneous multiple malignancies, heart arrhythmias, cognitive impairments and sleep disorders leading to coma and death, abasically hospice care in space on a vehicle with limited medical care for an incapacitated crew. It won’t be pretty for those who volunteer.

The steady-state chronic exposure is bad enough, but that environment can be predicted and shielding to reduce exposure to livable levels. But it would take just one strong solar event like the September 6-10, 2017 X-class solar flare-CME outbreaks to deliver a lethal proton dose to the astronauts even in a well-shielded “safe” compartment on a cruise phase of the mission.

And considering that 5 day period of solar flaring in September 2017 was not even anywhere near the solar cycle max peak of activity, and further it was during an unusually low SC24 cycle, means NASA cannot really know what to expect during the 2 x 200+ day out and back cruise phases of a manned-Mars mission. Now the coming SC25 (2020-2031) may be much like SC24, but all bets are off on SC26, 2031-2042 at this point. And it is the 2035-2040 period that NASA claims the vehicle and propulsion technologies will be in place to attempt a manned Mars mission, …. that is all except sufficient radiation shielding for the astronauts during the cruise phases to meet adequate rad-hazard human safety margins.

The astronauts may initially want to come home, but they may be so radiation sick by the end of their 400 day Mars surface period (600 days into the mission), that they decide to just all die on Mars and just send the return ship home on autopilot with the samples rather than die in space alone and contaminate the inside of the crew vehicle with their decomposing corpses. The last guy alive can put the other bodies in body-bags, but who puts the last guy in his body bag unless he zips himself in and commits suicide or vents himself into space?

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Neil Jordan
September 5, 2019 5:42 am

Neil Jordan September 4, 2019 at 10:10 am

Not necessarily dead but at least visually impaired. High energy cosmic particles leave skid marks on retinas thar are not repaired. Finite number of rods and cones must necessarily decrease.


That’s what for mother nature had to invent tear fluid and eye blink.

Alasdair Fairbairn
September 4, 2019 7:24 am

Just hope they will be able to cope with this without the presence of CO2. Where will the grant money come from?

Joel O’Bryan
September 4, 2019 8:12 am

If GISS were actually doing the job the organization was commissioned for, space weather, NASA wouldn’t have to farm out the job to extramural research.
Instead, the political activist James Hansen set GISS down the anti-science path of justifying an environmental agenda and they began contriving climate models with preconceived results for CO2 and global warming.
Now we pay for the in so many ways, such as 30+ years of inadequate Near Earth space weather effects knowledge. NASA now has to farm out the work it was supposed to be doing instead of junk climate modelling whose basic conclusion on CO2-climate sensitivity hasn’t changed for 40 years. GISS refuses to let go of high sensitivity because then 35 years of environmental crusade at GISS would collapse, despite that all the signs pointing to that conclusion.

Johann Wundersamer
September 5, 2019 5:19 am

“Electrojets are part of a larger space weather system that can lead to oscillations in Earth’s magnetic fields,”


Johann Wundersamer
September 5, 2019 5:29 am

“The word Aeronautics stemmed from when we could only fly through the atmosphere and”

the word “meteorology” stems from

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