Mid-Level Solar Flare
Mid-Level Solar Flare

Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch

The Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch studies the coupled Sun-Earth system and the terrestrial planets and icy satellites of our solar system. Our heliophysics portfolio includes instrumentation development, sounding rocket flight, and research focusing on energy transfer across physical scales throughout the solar atmosphere.  Our planetary science portfolio includes research on the origin, composition, and evolution of terrestrial planetary bodies, focusing on geological, geophysical, and related models, experiments, and observations conducted in the field, laboratory, and via analysis of remotely sensed data from space-based missions.

Alabama A&M Youth Motivation Task Force Participant

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Alphonse Sterling (ST13) participated as a visiting professional consultant at AA&M’s YMTF program, held virtually over 3/7-9/21.  Sterling worked as a team with two other professionals (including Shelia Nash-Stevenson, also of MSFC) and visited a number of classrooms, discussing with students various possibilities for future career paths.  In addition to the normal YMTF program, Sterling also spoke with an AA&M calculus-based physics class the evening of 9 March. Sterling was recipient of this year’s YMTF Michael Nobles Newcomer award, which is “presented to a first-time consultant who exemplifies [Michael Nobles’] passion and enthusiasm.”

Lunar Node-1 Delivered to Intuitive Machines

The Lunar Node-1 (LN-1) project delivered the instrument to Intuitive Machines in Houston on 4/5/21. Additionally, LN-1 completed initial check-in with Intuitive Machines management system and power testing to verify in-rush current and operational power conditions. At this point, LN-1 will remain at Intuitive Machines ahead of mechanical fit checks, continued flatsat and integration testing, and eventual payload mounting. Nova-C is still holding to a November 2021 launch date, and the focus of the MSFC team going forward is preparing for operations support and continued integration with Deep Space Network (DSN).

Scintillation Prediction Observation Research Task (SPORT)

The Brazilian Technical Institute for Aeronautics (ITA) worked on SPORT Engineering Model Algorithm Integration & Test focusing on assembly, integration procedures including cables route inside the spacecraft and changes to AIT procedures due to instruments cable connections. ITA presented the preliminary results of the Thermal Balance Test data and the Team was pleased with the results; additional analysis will be done. The data will be used to refine the thermal model. The Aerospace Compact Total Electron Content Sensor (CTECS) has arrived at MSFC and will be stored at the Flight Hardware Support facility until it is shipped to Brazil.

Paper on Faint Coronal Jets Accepted

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) and Mitzi Adams (ST13) are  co-authors on a paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal entitled “What Causes Faint Solar Coronal Jets from Emerging Flux Regions in Coronal Holes?”  This paper is led by Abigail Harden, and also includes co-authors Navdeep Panesar, a former postdoc of Sterling who is now working at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, CA, and Ronald Moore of UAH.  Harden is an undergraduate student at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA.  She was a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student of Panesar (along with Sterling and Moore) in the UAH/MSFC REU program in the summer of 2018.   The paper is available at https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021arXiv210307813H/abstract.

Faint coronal jets

STEP-1 Space Weather R2O2R Proposal Submitted

A proposal entitled “Analysis of solar magnetogram datasets for identification of solar flare events using machine learning methods” has been submitted to NASA for the Heliophysics Space Weather Science Application Research-to-Operations-to-Research (R2O2R) ROSES opportunity.  The principal investigator is Rohit Sharma from the small business AI-TECH Systems, known for their Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) capabilities for space applications.  David Falconer and Linda Krause (ST13) are serving as Co-Is to provide Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) vector magnetogram data and exploratory data analysis routines, respectively.   The fourth Co-I, Praveen Jain of AI-TECH, is assisting with the application of AI/ML codes to process the large data cubes comprised of time-series vector magnetogram images for incorporation into predictive codes.  This builds on the work performed by David Falconer (ST13/UAH) and Krause during a MSFC-funded Science Innovation Fund (ScIF) award from several years ago, where principal components analysis (PCA) algorithms were applied to solar magnetogram image data, resulting in a unique signature in the transformed data that yielded a 15-minute precursor to a major flare event.  This topic directly addresses one of the two solicited investigations, namely “Solar Flare Activity Forecast: Improve the skill of short-term, probabilistic flare forecasts based on currently observable inputs as they pertain to direct (ionosphere) and indirect (coronal mass ejections, solar proton events) events that directly impact the geospace environment and impact deep space exploration.”  The STEP-2 proposal is due 5/25/21.

Paper on Solar Coronal Structures Published

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) is co-author on a paper appearing in The Astrophysical Journal entitled “The Missing Cool Corona in the Flat Magnetic Field around Solar Active Regions.”  This paper is led by Talwinder Singh, a recent PhD graduate of UAH, and the paper also includes co-author Ronald Moore of UAH.  Singh was a student in a class in which Sterling gave a series of guest lectures in 2018.  The paper is available at https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021ApJ...909...57S/abstract

Solar Disk single active region

MSFC Scientists at the University of Huntsville Space Science Department Jamboree

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Dennis Gallagher (ST13) participated in the UAH Space Science Department (SPA) Jamboree that took place 3/26/21.  The Jamboree was created to provide visibility of Department and MSFC collaborative scientist researchers for prospective graduate students.  MSFC scientists included ST12 Astrophysics Branch researchers.  Each researcher was given 5 minutes to provide a quick picture of their research that was followed by offering breakout sessions where students could interact directly with individual researchers.  This represents an opportunity for MSFC scientists in space science to work with graduate students, funded through MSFC projects or graduate student fellowships sought through UAH.

Elementary School Space Week Speaker

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) spoke to two groups of Columbia Elementary Students (Madison, Alabama) about his career path, the Sun, and the Sun’s effects on Earth (seasons).  The students had very good questions.  Sterling’s talk ended with a fun quiz, with questions such as, “What do we get from the Sun?” (heat, light, seasons).  From responses in the chat, most students came away knowing that the Sun is a star.  There were 125 fourth grade students in the first session and 150 fifth graders in the second session.  The sessions took place on 3/11/21.

CLASP 2 Featured in WIRED Magazine

David McKenzie (ST13) and results from the Chromospheric Layer Spectropolarimeter 2 (CLASP2) mission are featured in a WIRED magazine article titled “NASA Gets a Quick Peek at a Mysterious Layer of the Sun”. WIRED cites the paper that appeared in February’s Scientific Advances and represented the first successful mapping of the chromosphere’s magnetic field at four layers using ultraviolet imaging techniques. “It’s a really confusing place,” McKenzie, the principal investigator of the CLASP2 mission, is quoted as saying “That’s what makes it exciting. It’s a frontier right in the middle of the sun’s atmosphere.” Read the article at: https://www.wired.com/story/nasa-gets-a-quick-peek-at-a-mysterious-layer-of-the-sun/.

CLASP 2 Wired graphic

Fassett Speaks to Career Panel

Caleb Fassett (ST13) was one of four NASA speakers for Charleston, SC Schools Countdown to Success Career Panel on 3/5/21 that was organized by the Office of STEM Engagement at MSFC.  At least 490 students/classes were registered to virtually attend, and the students in attendance asked a range of excellent questions.

Hinode Executes Orbit Change

On 3/15/21, the Hinode team was apprised by the Conjunction Assessment and Risk Analysis (CARA) office that a very close ("Red" alert) debris pass was pending.  The Hinode spacecraft is owned and operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  JAXA watched the maturing conjunction calculations closely, eventually making the call to move Hinode out of harm's way.  JAXA executed the orbital move late in the day of 20 Mar.  Spacecraft and communications checkouts were successfully conducted over 3/21-22/21 and it was determined that Hinode could resume science operations on 3/23/21.  Hinode has been operating safely on orbit for over 14 years.

Hinode

CLASP 2 In the News

CLASP 2 Rocket and Team Members
CLASP 2 Rocket and Team Members
CLASP2 Observations

The 2019  flight of CLASP 2 resulted in measurements of the Sun's Chromospheric magnetic field at 3 different heights simultaneously. When data from Hinode is added, it means scientists have measured 4 different levels of the Sun's atmosphere at the same time. The CLASP 2 results demonstrate the viability of UV Spectrometry for measuring the chromospheric field and is the first time so many heights have been measured simultaneously. Recently, a paper about the CLASP 2 results  titled "Mapping Solar Magnetic Fields from the Phtosphere to the Base of the Corona" was published by Science Advances. The paper was authored by Ryohko Ishikawa and many members of the CLASP 2 Team.

There are several web releases from NASA, NAOJ, and the IAC at the following links:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2021/nasa-missions-make-unprecedented-map-of-sun-s-magnetic-field

http://www.iac.es/en/outreach/news/clasp2-space-experiment-achieves-unprecedented-map-suns-magnetic-field-photosphere-base-corona

Information about the paper and the CLASP 2 results can also be found at these links:

https://hinode.nao.ac.jp/en/news/results/clasp2-publication-en-202102/index.html

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/nion-src021821.php

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2268544-suns-bumpy-magnetic-fields-might-explain-why-its-atmosphere-is-so-hot/

Women in Engineering High School Club Speaker

Heidi Haviland (ST13) was invited to speak to the Martin Luther King High School’s Women in Engineering Club. Haviland spoke about her career path and current planetary science research. The students had a lot of questions about how high school classes like physics and math help prepare scientists to do research and how scientists and engineers work together to accomplish NASA missions. The meeting took place on 2/10/21 over Google Meet.

Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT)

The Brazilian Technical Institute for Aeronautics (ITA) continue to work on the Engineering Model (EM) development, currently integrating the Data Storage Unit (DSU). They are also working on the star tracker driver update for the Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS). ITA performed tests on the X-Band link together with the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE); data was successfully transmitted via radio and received by the Cortex receiver located at Cachoeira Paulista Ground Station.

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Initial training with the instrument PIs and ITA has started in preparation for remote integration. ITA has received the Thermal Balance Test data from INPE/LIT (testing laboratory) and will start to analyze the data and refine the thermal model. The Utah State University Space Weather Instrumentation has arrived at MSFC and will be stored at the Flight Hardware Support facility until it is shipped to Brazil.

Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics Publication

The peer reviewed paper titled: "The Breathing Plasmasphere: Erosion and Refilling" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, authored by Dennis Gallagher (ST13), Hugh Comfort (UAH Emeritus), Roxanne Katus (Eastern Michigan University), Bill Sandel (University of Arizona), Shing Fung (GSFC/675), and Mark Adrian (GSFC/675). The article can be found at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020JA028727.

Small Business Partnership to Use AI/ML Techniques for Solar Space Weather Applications

Following a MSFC Tech Talk in which the Rohit Sharma from the small business AI-TECH presented an overview of their Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) capabilities for space applications, Linda Krause (ST13) led a virtual meeting with him and his business partner to explore opportunities for collaboration.   After discussing several topics of interest to NASA Heliophysics and capabilities of both institutions – including the data sets and algorithms – the participants decided to pursue the study of solar image data in search of solar flare triggers.  This builds on the work performed by David Falconer (ST13/UAH) and Krause during a HQ-funded Science Innovation Fund (ScIF) award from several years ago, where principal components analysis (PCA) algorithms were applied to solar magnetogram image data, resulting in a unique signature in the transformed data that yielded a 15-minute precursor to a major flare event.  AI-TECH appreciated the presentation/discussions on this work done to date, and they expressed their ideas about how to take it forward.  The four scientists (Sharma, Praveen, Falconer, and Krause) agreed to form a new team to use AI/ML/PCA techniques to seek solar flare precursors in large solar image data sets, starting off with the magnetogram data.  The new partnership activity roadmap is comprised of data acquisition, management, cleaning, transformation, and analysis, followed by conference presentations in preparation for proposing to NASA/ROSES/Heliophysics calls starting in 2022.

solarstorm

The Magnetic and Space Environment Rover (MASER) Proposal Has Been Submitted to the PRISM Step 2 Call

Heidi Haviland (ST13) is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the MASER PRISM proposal lead by PI Peter Chi (UCLA). This effort proposed an electromagnetic suite of instruments, including a lander and rover package, to investigate the space weathering processes at the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl. Selected PRISM proposals will fly in Q4 2023 to Reiner Gamma on one of the Commercial Lunar Payload Service providers. Step 2 proposals were due on 2/3/21.

Marshall Scientist Speaks to Students

Mitzi Adams (ST13) spoke (virtually) to about 80 second graders from Cotton Indian Elementary School in Stockbridge, Georgia.  Adams spoke about her career path going from a high-school internship at Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, Georgia to obtaining a position with NASA.  The children were interested in learning about stars, so Adams discussed the constellation of Orion, which has several stars of different colors, as well as a stellar nursery.  The Sun was also part of the discussion, how it is a stable star, and the subject of Adams’ research.  The discussion took place on 2/11/21 via Google Meet.

Mitzi Adams (ST13) presented materials on women’s historical contributions to astronomy (~1750s – 1930s), stellar evolution, and her research on solar jets to UAH Professor Chiang Hu’s Space-Weather class.  The class was on 2/11/21 via Zoom.

Solar Jets Spicules

Hinode Operation to Support Parker Solar Probe

Hinode Transit of Venus
Hinode Transit of Venus

Hinode is currently executing in "focused mode", which is a simplified pointing scheme that is occasionally employed to reduce annual operations costs.  The focused mode regimen usually involves choosing a particular area of the sun for a set period of fixed pointing.  However, the next encounter of the Parker Solar Probe (PSP makes ~2 solar passes per year) is pending and Hinode science leadership has chosen to deviate from ongoing focused mode operations to run a multiday Hinode Operations Plan (HOP) in support of future PSP observations.  The complex HOP will run for four days (1/8-11/21) and will attempt to identify and observe multiple energetic events in the heliosphere that might also be soon targeted by PSP.  This opportunistic effort is demonstrative of Hinode's commitment to serve as a regular/reliable science partner with a wide variety of solar observatories.

The Changing Lunar Surface Environment: Hazards and Resources Chapter Submitted

Heidi Haviland (ST13) was invited to contribute the chapter, “The changing lunar surface environment: hazards and resources” for the book, “The Human Factor in the Settlement of Luna: An Interdisciplinary Approach”, edited by Margaret Boone Rappaport and Konrad Szocik. This book is in the final review and editing stages and should be published later this year. This chapter provides a top-level summary of the dynamic processes at the lunar science including dust, atmosphere, and plasma. Lastly, there is a discussion on hazards and renewable resources that can help a future human settlement on the lunar surface.

Moon surface

Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC) Preliminary Design Reviews

Mike Zanetti and Dennis Gallagher (ST13) are supporting the MSFC Office of STEM Engagement reviews of preliminary designs for rover excursion systems. The reviews involve 15 minute presentations with questions from the judges, often on a 30 minute cadence from 1/18-27/21.  Their presentations support 10 or more page written reports that are submitted in advance.

Approximately 84 teams from around the world are giving virtual presentations of their Rover designs and submitted design reports as part of this year’s Rover Challenge.  While the physical event may not take place, teams will be judged and winners chosen based on the technical reports they submit even without executing in-person event excursions.  Dr. Gallagher is participating as one of the judges.

Paper Accepted in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A paper led by Joe Levy (Colgate University), co-authored by Caleb Fassett (ST13) and others entitled “Surface boulder banding indicates martian debris-covered glaciers formed over multiple glaciations” was accepted for publication.  In the paper, bands of surface boulders were identified and mapped on 45 debris-covered glaciers (also called lobate debris aprons) in the mid-latitudes of Mars using data from MRO’s HiRISE camera.  The banding of these surface boulders are interpreted to indicate multiple glaciations on Mars over its last ~800 million years. Individual landforms on Mars may preserve ice from multiple glacial/interglacial cycles.  Along with being of scientific interest, these glaciers are exciting potential targets for future human exploration of Mars because of their resource potential.

Read the paper at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2015971118.

Mars glacier 1

The image above shows comparison of surface boulder densities for Mullins and Friedman glaciers, Earth, and three sites on Mars. All Martian lobate debris aprons are oriented with downslope to image bottom. Color coding shows kernel densities of boulders. Boulders are clustered at all sites, and on Earth, boulder bands align with arcuate surface discontinuities (labeled as ASDs) mapped.

Marshall Participation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2020 Virtual Fall Meeting

Heidi Haviland (ST13) participated in the 2020 virtual AGU Fall Meeting, 12/01-17/2020. This was the first time the conference was held virtually. She gave a poster presentation entitled, “Characterizing Martian Volcanic Provinces’ Magmatic Evolution and Chemistry through Equations of State Modeling Initial Study,” in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Mantle Melting and Volcanism I Posters session.

Hinode Senior Review Results

Hinode

The Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate released the 2020 Senior Review report on operating missions on 12/21/20.  The report is available at https://science.nasa.gov/heliophysics/resources/senior-review.  The Hinode mission, an international solar mission led by Japan with the domestic component managed by MSFC (ST13 / ST14), was reviewed favorably by the panel noting that “Hinode is a key element in the HSO’s large array of instruments for recording the upcoming solar maximum.”   The Hinode mission received an overall grade of Excellent/Very Good and was successfully granted a mission extension with added requirements pertaining to data and software archival to be addressed prior to the 2023 Senior Review process.  Sabrina Savage (ST13) is the US Project Scientist, and Stephen Elrod (ST14) is the US Project Manager.  Hinode is an international partnership between Japan, the US, the United Kingdom, and Europe.  The domestic instrument teams are cooperatively led by the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Prism Step 1 Proposals Submitted

The following two step 1 proposals were submitted to the Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) call on 12/11/20. The selected PRISM payload investigation suites will fly on CLPS missions to the lunar surface in 2023 and 2024. These investigations are currently working towards the Step 2 proposal deadlines due in early February.

  • "The Lunar Advanced Neutron Detector Standalone System (LANDSS)" by PI Mark McElyea (Teledyne Brown Engineering), Program Manager Byron Bonds (TBE), Science PI Heidi Haviland (ST13), and Peter Bertone (ST12). This investigation pairs TBE’s fuel cell along with our Neutron Measurements at the Lunar Surface (NMLS) instrument for a three-month observation of dynamic surface processes including in situ observations of the diurnal hydrogen cycle. LANDSS will be the first science investigation to survive and operate through the lunar night since Apollo and the first to do so without radiogenic power sources.
  • “Magnetic And Space Environment Rover (MASER)”, (MASER) by PI Peter Chi (UCLA), Science PI Heidi Haviland (ST13), Roman Gomez (Southwest Research Institute), Georgiana Kramer (Planetary Science Institute), Mike Provenzano (Astrobotic), and Charles Swenson (Utah State University). This investigation uses a suite of electromagnetic and plasma instruments to perform the first in-situ detailed investigation of a lunar swirl providing better understanding of their origin.

American Geophysical Union Session Invited Talk

Sabrina Savage (ST13) gave a virtual invited talk entitled “The First Solar Flare Sounding Rocket Campaign and Its Potential Impacts for High Energy Solar Instrumentation” within the American Geophysical Union session “SH056 - High-Energy Solar Investigations Through Next-Generation Remote Sensing: Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Beyond I.”  The talk is recorded and available at https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm20/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/702927.

The presentation introduces the new sounding rocket campaign and its derivation from current limitations of the sounding rocket program to test solar flare instrumentation.  A pilot solar flare campaign has been established to test the ability to launch at least two sounding rockets with instrumentation optimized to observe flares from the Poker Flats Research Range in Alaska, taking advantage of the site's ability to accommodate a long holding pattern (~4 hours per day for several weeks).  The first three payloads participating in this solar pilot program, Hi-C FLARE, FOXSI 4, and SNIFS, were discussed along with how this new technology development paradigm could enable the next wave of exploratory flare missions.

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Caleb Fassett Selected to be Participating Scientist on Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)

The proposal submitted by Caleb Fassett (ST13) to NASA HQ to be named as a Participating Scientist on KPLO was accepted.  The mission is South Korea’s first lunar mission, and includes a NASA instrument to look into Permanently Shadowed Regions at the lunar poles with a high signal-to-noise camera, ShadowCam.  Fassett’s proposal focused on understanding regolith evolution and regolith properties using KPLO’s novel optical polarimetry instrument, PolCam.

First Results from CLASP Featured as Cover Art on Book

SPW8-front-cover

The Proceedings book for the Solar Polarization Workshop #8 had cover art featuring one of the important first results from the CLASP sounding rocket of 2015. The NASA PI and Project Scientist for this mission were Amy Winebarger and Ken Kobayashi respectively. MSFC Continues to make a big splash in probing the Sun's atmosphere.

Lunar Node-1 Completes Pre-Ship Review

The Lunar Node-1 (LN-1) project held its Pre-ship Review on 12/11/20.  Dave Edwards/EE05 served as chair with division-level management representatives from the organizations involved in the project. The project passed the review with some actions to complete.  The flight spare will be delivered to IM on 1/4/21. Launch is slated for 11/7/21.

Nature Astronomy Letter Published

A new Nature Astronomy letter was published on 12/7/20, titled “The origin of reconnection-mediated transient brightenings in the solar transition region”.  The authors of the article are Shah Mohammad Bahauddin (University of Colorado - Boulder), Stephen J. Bradshaw (Rice University), and Amy R. Winebarger (NASA MSFC/ST13).  The article features the Ph.D. work of Dr. Bahauddin and is based on a Heliophysics Guest Investigator Proposal that was led by Winebarger with Bradshaw as Co-investigator. The article features analysis of small-scale, multi-stranded loops seen in high resolution data from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS).  The evolution of these loops, when compared to hydrodynamic models, provide important clues to how the solar corona is heated.

Find the article at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-01263-2.

The Nature Blog entry is at https://astronomycommunity.nature.com/posts/how-do-tiny-cool-loops-in-the-sun-produce-super-hot-plasma.

It was also featured on on the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics website at https://lasp.colorado.edu/home/2020/12/07/lasp-researcher-reveals-new-clues-on-what-makes-the-suns-atmosphere-so-hot/.

And finally, read about it on Rice University's website at https://news.rice.edu/2020/12/07/scientists-get-the-lowdown-on-suns-super-hot-atmosphere/.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Session Organizer

AGU_logo_V-RGB

Sabrina Savage (ST13) co-organized a session for the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting entitled “Impacts of Variability in the Middle Corona”.  The foundation of the session was to explore the temporal and spatial variability in the middle corona and the subsequent effects of transient phenomena propagating through this solar region. The formal iPoster session format included a lively group discussion surveying the session submissions followed by well-attended breakout meetings to continue discussions beyond the AGU virtual constraints.

Hinode Momentum Wheel Reset Completed

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reported that they successfully completed the reset operation of the Hinode Momentum Wheel rotation speed on the evening of 11/25/20 JST. This was a scheduled maintenance event that is executed about once every two years. Afterward, Hinode was held in safe condition until Friday evening 11/27/20 JST, when normal science observations were successfully reestablished.

Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task

Funding for the SPORT project has been received from SMD and contract mods are in process; the mod for Utah State University has been fully executed. The acceptance review for the Aerospace Corporation Compact Total Electron Content GPS Sensor (CTECS) was successfully completed on 12/4/20. This completes the instrument acceptance for SPORT. The US partners will enter a hibernation phase providing limited support to our Brazilian partners as they continue with spacecraft development. Instruments will be shipped to Brazil when the spacecraft is prepared for integration, currently scheduled for January 2021.

G-367557_SPORT_final
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NASA's Curious Universe Podcast Features MSFC Scientist

Sabrina Savage (ST13) was featured in an episode of NASA’s Curious Universe podcast titled “Seasons of the Sun”.  The episode aired on 11/9/20 and is available for listening at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/seasons-of-the-sun/id1505624059?i=1000497511891.

ARTEMIS III SCience Definition Team (SDT) Report

The Science Definition Team (SDT) for Artemis III has completed a report describing detailed science strategy and prioritized measurements for Artemis III and turned it in to NASA HQ.  Caleb Fassett (ST13) was a member of the SDT, which was chaired by Renee Weber (ST01/Chief Scientist) with co-chairs Barbara Cohen (GSFC) and Samuel Lawrence (JSC).

Planetary Science Journal Manuscript Submitted

The manuscript entitled "The Lunar Geophysical Network Landing Sites Science Rationale" by Heidi Haviland (ST13), Renee Weber (MSFC Chief Scientist), Clive Neal, Philippe Lognonné, Raphaël Garcia, Nicholas Schmerr, Seiichi Nagihara, Robert Grimm, Douglas Currie, Simone Dell'Agnello, Thomas Watters, Mark Panning, Catherine Johnson, Ryuhei Yamada, Martin Knapmeyer, Lillian Ostrach, Taichi Kawamura, and Noah Petro, has been submitted for publication in the American Astronomical Society (AAS) journal, Planetary Science Journal. This project is led by Heidi Haviland and discusses the seismic, geodetic, heat flow, and electromagnetic considerations for a network of four geophysical landers.

Proposal Submitted to NASA/HQ for Multidisciplinary Application of AI/ML Algorithms

On 11/13/20, a proposal entitled “Application of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) computer vision algorithms to multi-disciplinary data sets for rare event detection” was submitted to NASA/SMD for funding consideration.  The project team, comprised of Linda Krause (ST13), Francesco Civilini (ST13/NPP), and David Falconer (ST13/UAH), will use sophisticated pattern recognition techniques to identify rare events (~2%) from two disparate data sets: Shallow moonquakes (Planetary Sciences) and Intense solar flares (Heliophysics).  The datasets include moonquake data from Apollo missions and solar magnetogram data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.  The proposal opportunity seeks artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) projects that can be used in across disparate scientific disciplines.  AI/ML applications, and especially rare event detection, is an increasingly active area of research in the space science community due to the plethora of data available in archives and their utility in the development of space weather forecasting systems.  If selected, the expected award is ~$150k for the period of performance from 12/1/20 through 3/31/21.

Planetary Decadal Moon/Mercury Panelist

Caleb Fassett (ST13) was announced as a member of the Moon/Mercury subpanel for the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey, 2023-2032.   The first meeting was 10/23/20, and first public meeting will be 11/3/20.  See https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/planetary-science-and-astrobiology-decadal-survey-2023-2032 for more.

Heidi Haviland Presents at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Science Team Meeting

Heidi Haviland (ST13) was invited to give a presentation on the “Neutron Measurements at the Lunar Surface (NMLS)” instrument to the LRO Planetary Science Working Group (PSWG) Science Team meeting, hosted virtually on Microsoft Teams. This presentation was contributed to by Peter Bertone (ST12), Jarvis Caffrey (ER64), Mark Christl (ST12), Caleb Fassett (ST13), Michael Zanetti (ST13), and Jeffrey Apple (ES63). LRO, currently orbiting the Moon, has a neutron spectrometer, LEND, and a charged particle detector, CRaTER, both of which offer opportunities for collaborations between NMLS surface and LRO orbital data. LRO invited all NPLP payloads on both Astrobotic mission one and Intuitive Machines to give presentations looking for synergistic observation opportunities. Both these missions plan to launch in 2021 when the LRO spacecraft will be waiting to welcome and observe these landings and missions. Additional details on the LRO mission, instruments, and data can be found here: https://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

LROspacecraft_full_LG

NASA Grant Won

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) is Co-Investigator on an awarded proposal to the NASA NSPIRES Heliophysics System Observatory Connect program.  The proposal was entitled: “CHOMP: Connecting Heliophysics Observatories and Models with PSP,” and the Principal Investigator is Pete Riley of Predictive Science in San Diego, CA.

Papers on Solar Eruptions

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) is co-author on a paper appearing in The Astrophysical Journal entitled “Sequential Lid Removal in a Triple-decker Chain of CME-producing Solar Eruptions.”  This paper is led by Navin Joshi of Udaipur Solar Observatory in India, and also includes co-author Ronald Moore of UAH.  The paper is available at https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2020ApJ...901...38J/abstract.

Along with Ronald Moore (UAH), Sterling also submitted a white paper to the NASA Heliophysics Division’s Heliophysics 2050 workshop.  The paper is entitled: “Future High-Resolution and High-Cadence Observations for Unraveling Eruptive Solar Features.”

Mitzi Adams Selected as Heliophysics and Planetary Science Assistant Branch Chief

Marshall's Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch (ST13) is pleased to announce that Mitzi Adams has been selected as the new Assistant Branch Chief. Mitzi​ joined NASA in 1988 and studies the Sun's turbulent​​ behavior. Her official start date as ST13 Assistant Branch Chief is October 25, 2020. ​​​​

Marshall solar scientist Mitzi Adams

Artemis III Science White Papers Submitted

Dr. Heidi Haviland submitted the following science white papers in support of the Artemis III mission science definition team, https://www.lpi.usra.edu/announcements/artemis/:

  • Artemis III Neutron Surface Science. By, H. Haviland, M. J. Christl, P. F. Bertone, J. A. Caffrey, J. A. Apple. This paper highlights lunar neutron science including characterizing the radiation environment, understanding regolith composition, and the presence of water.
  • Characterizing terminator space weather with Artemis III. By, H. Haviland, W. M. Farrell, J. S. Halekas, E. M. Willis, V. N. Coffey, D. L. Gallagher, C. D. Fry, J. R. Espley. This paper discusses key open plasma physics questions that can be addressed by the Artemis III mission including surface charging and the plasma contribution to volatile cycles.
  • Electromagnetic sounding of the lunar interior from Artemis III. By, R. E. Grimm, G. T. Delory, J. R. Espley, P. Chi, W. Farrell, H. Haviland, C. Johnson. This paper demonstrates how electromagnetic sounding could be performed to help determine interior electrical conductivity, temperature profile, core size, and iron content.
  • Building a lunar network using a long-lived, human-deployed Lunar Geophysical Package (LGP). By, M. Panning, R. Weber, S. Kedar, D. Bugby, S. Calcutt, D. Currie, S. Dell’Agnello, J. Elliott, R. Grimm, S. Gulick, H. Haviland, Y. He, C. Johnson, T. Kawamura, P. Lognonné, S. Nagihara, C. Neal, C. Nunn, W. T. Pike, I. Standley, W. Walsh, and M. Wieczorek. This paper describes a geophysical surface package that can be deployed by astronauts for investigations into the interior structure.
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Paper Published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters

A manuscript entitled “Modification of Caloris ejecta blocks by long-lived mass-wasting: a volatile-driven process?” led by Jack Wright (Open University, UK) that included Caleb Fassett (ST13) as a co-author was published.  The paper looks at the surroundings of the Caloris impact basin on Mercury where large hills are found that have been interpreted as large ejecta blocks.  The paper describes the long-term geomorphic modification of these hills, perhaps due to volatile loss.

Read the article at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116519

Modification of Caloris Ejecta 2

SPORT Instrument Acceptance Review

Marshall's Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) held a virtual instrument Acceptance Review for the Utah State University (USU) Space Weather Probes.  Linda Krause (ST13) and Shelia Nash-Stevenson (ST14) served as members on the Acceptance Review Board, led by Stephen Clanton (ES11).  USU Professor Charles Swenson and Jason Powel presented the instrument suite’s key requirements and performance objectives, environmental testing and test results, and the USU Space Weather Probes integration plan with the SPORT bus. They were supported by newly-graduated student Nathan Tipton and students Joel Mork and Nicholas Wallace.

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The results of the review were that the suite of USU Space Weather Probes was conditionally accepted pending coordination with the spacecraft bus developers in Brazil regarding a slightly higher power consumption than was previously agreed upon. A virtual quality inspection was performed by James Lamb (QD11), and all requirements were satisfactorily met.

Paper Published in Geology

A manuscript entitled “Precipitation and Aridity Constraints from Paleolakes on Early Mars” by Gaia Stucky de Quay (UT-Austin), Tim Goudge (UT-Austin), and Caleb Fassett (ST13) was recently published in Geology. The paper shows potential patterns of water availability on Mars during it early history, and demonstrates that widespread semi-arid or wetter conditions were required.  This work was supported by a Mars Data Analysis Program grant to Goudge and Fassett. Read the article at:

https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article-abstract/doi/10.1130/G47886.1/589700/Precipitation-and-aridity-constraints-from?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Marshall Scientists Participate at the Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group Annual Meeting

Heidi Haviland presented at the Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group’s (LEAG) annual meeting, September 14 - 19, 2020, hosted via virtual platforms. The “Neutron Measurements at the Lunar Surface with PRISM” poster by Havilland, Mark Christl, Peter Bertone (ST12), Jarvis Caffrey (ER64),  and Jeff Apple (ES63), highlights the importance of making surface neutron measurements on upcoming Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions. This workshop brought together the lunar science community in a virtual format to discuss and highlight current state of knowledge on lunar science and upcoming missions. The program materials can be found here: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/leag2020/.

The Lunar Geophysical Network (LGN) Completes Funded SMD Mission Concept Study and Report

The LGN mission seeks to understand the initial stages of terrestrial planet evolution through a network of seismic, electromagnetic, heat flow and next generation laser retroreflectors sensors. Marshall Chief Scientist, Renee Weber, serves as Deputy PI of the effort, along with LGN PI Clive Neal of the University of Notre Dame. Heidi Haviland (ST13) is an active team member assisting as the Science-Engineering team liaison, and lead for plasma physics in support of the Electromagnetic investigation. LGN is under development for the upcoming New Frontiers 5 announcement of opportunity. 

Moon Tryptich

The LGN Preliminary Mission Concept Study Final Report will be publicly available. This effort is in support of NASA preparations for the 2023 Planetary Science Decadal Survey Update and one of the tasks of the Decadal Committee will be to recommend a portfolio of planetary science missions. LGN was one of 11 missions selected for a funded study (and one of 3 focused on the Moon). The purpose of the concept study is to examine and optimize features of the LGN mission design such as packaging, deployments, power, and geographical, or selenographical, distribution of landers. As the science case and measurement requirements for LGN are already well-established in the current Planetary Decadal Survey, this mission concept study primarily focuses on the assessment of system and subsystem concepts, requirements and trade-offs, costing and risk estimates, and the identification of areas for technology development investment in support of the LGN mission.

Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research and Technology Results Released

​The 2019 Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research and Technology (H-FORT) results have been released. The Marshall-led High-resolution and Coronal Imager (Hi-C) sounding rocket proposal, PI Amy Winebarger (ST13), was selected for inclusion in a Solar Flare Campaign. The Hi-C telescope will be re-coated to 12.9 nm passband and two additional instruments will be added.  Marshall will provide engineering, testing, flight, science, and management support for the mission. 

coronal rain, solar storm

The Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager (FOXSI), (Wayne Baumgartner, ST12), was also selected for the campaign.  The rockets participating in the Solar Flare Campaign will be launched from Poker Flat Research Range after a flare is detected in 2024. 

Additionally, the CubeSat Imaging X-ray Solar Spectrometer (CubIXSS) was selected for a Phase A study.  Amir Caspi (SwRI) is the PI of CubIXSS and Winebarger is a Co-investigator.  If selected for flight, CubIXSS will acquire overlapping spatial and spectral data in the soft X-ray (< 4 nm) wavelength range.   All three proposals received “Excellent" reviews.​

Invitation to ITASAT-2 Constellation Mission Concept Team

Linda Habash Krause has been invited to join the joint US-Brazilian-Israeli ITASAT-2 mission concept team.  ITASAT-2 launched its pre-Phase-A study kick-off meeting on July 15, 2020 at Brazil’s Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA), which was remotely attended by Jim Spann (NASA/HQ) and Marshall’s Linda Krause and Joe Casas.  Prof. Charles Swenson (Utah State University) presented the Science of ITASAT-2, in which ionospheric equatorial plasma bubbles would be investigated with a constellation of three 6U CubeSat spacecraft deployed into a “pearls-on-a-string” configuration in low Earth orbit.  Each of the satellites will deploy a subset of the science instruments used in the Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) mission, the joint US-Brazilian satellite mission managed by MSFC and scheduled for a 4Q 2021 launch.  ITASAT-2 will be used as a pathfinder mission to demonstrate constellation maintenance with Brazilian-made propulsion systems.  The intent is to demonstrate the new Brazilian capability in preparation for a follow-on SPORT-2 constellation mission in which new space weather instrument technologies will be available for cutting-edge research into equatorial ionospheric physics, especially with respect to ionospheric turbulence and scintillation.

InSight Science Team Meeting

Heidi Haviland attended the eighteenth InSight Science Team Meeting which was hosted virtually over JPLs Webex. During the meeting, multiple discussions on data, science collaborations, and discoveries occurred.  The meeting took place over July 20-24, 2020. InSight is currently in the martian winter with strong dust storms preventing the solar arrays from generating as much power as previous in the mission. Several instruments had to be turned off to minimize power usage. Some exciting science highlights include some core investigations, dual magnetic field observations between Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) in orbit and the InSight Fluxgate Magnetometer (IFG) instrument at the surface, the unknown origin of magnetic field pulsations, and some preliminary magnetic sounding work was discussed. More on these results will be presented at American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. InSight is undergoing a review of its extended mission proposal, which if successful, will continue to improve knowledge of the martian interior.​

InSight Solar Panel save

Conclusion of the NASA Frontier Development Lab Marshall-Sponsored Knowledge Discovery Framework Challenge

Francesco Civilini (ST13) was part of a four-person research team for the MSFC-sponsored Knowledge Discovery Framework challenge for the 2020 Frontier Development Lab, a NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) sponsored nine-week research sprint where subject matter experts join computer scientists to tackle high-risk/high-reward challenges in space science using machine learning. The challenge showcase occurred on August 14, 2020 and can be found at this link: https://frontierdevelopmentlab.org/live. The Knowledge Discovery Framework challenge is presented at approximately the three-hour timestamp. Additionally, Civilini received the “Collaborative Spirit Award” during the program.

Lunar Surface Science Workshop III

Debra Needham, Caleb Fassett and Heidi Haviland attended the Lunar Surface Science Workshop III on Lunar dust and regolith virtually on 8/20/20. Caleb presented on the Cross Program Design Specification for Natural Environments (DSNE) regarding regolith properties, meteoroid and ejecta environments. Debra is one of the conference organizers. Members of academic, government research facilities, and commercial partners came together for this discussion on how to safely operate humans and science investigations at the lunar surface. Apollo Astronaut Jack Schmidt and thermal engineer Ron Creel provided some context and important observations for Artemis crew planning. More workshop information can be found here: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lunarsurface2020/.

Moon surface

Marshall Participation in International Space University Alumni Conference

Heidi Haviland (Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch) attended the first virtual International Space University (ISU) Alumni Conference. The conference keynote speaker was NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, with other NASA speakers including the agency's Chief Scientist, Jim Green, HLS manager John Connolly, astronaut Jessica Meir, and the Chief Innovation Officer for Engineering, Omar Hatamleh. In addition, representatives from all other space agencies also discussed current space endeavors, challenges, and opportunities for partnerships. ISU is known for bringing an international, interdisciplinary, and intercultural perspective on the field of space. Haviland also organized a special session for alumni from Masters 2010 which was very well attended and received.​

Planetary Decadal Survey White Paper Contributions

​A number of Marshall scientists made contributions to the scientific white papers used as input for the planetary decadal survey.  The papers co-authored by Marshall planetary scientists were:

  • Geochronology as a Framework for Inner Solar System History and Evolution (led by Barbara Cohen, NASA GSFC; Caleb Fassett (ST13) was a co-author).
  • Lunar Volatiles and Solar System Science (led by Parvathy Prem, JHU-APL; Debra Needham (ST13) was a co-author).
  • Transformative science unlocked by future geodetic data at Mars, Venus, and Ocean Worlds (led by Michael Sori, Purdue University; Renee Weber (Marshall Chief Scientist) was a co-author).
  • Lunar polar volatile resources: Obtaining their origin prior to extraction (led by Bill Farrell, GSFC; Debra Needham was a co-author).
  • The scientific rationale for deployment of a long-lived geophysical network on the Moon (led by Renee Weber, MSFC; Heidi Haviland (ST13) was a co-author).
  • Planetary Seismology: The Solar System's Ocean Worlds (led by Steven Vance, JPL; Renee Weber was a co-author).
  • Habitability, Geodynamics, and the Case for Venus (led by Sue Smrekar, JPL; Caleb Fassett was a co-author).
  • Assessing the Recent Impact Flux in the Inner Solar System: 1 Ga to Present (led by Rebecca Ghent, PSI; Caleb Fassett was a co-author).
  • Assessing the Present-Day Impact Flux to the Lunar Surface Via Impact Flash Monitoring and Its Implications for Sustained Lunar Exploration (led by Josh Cahill, JHU-APL; Renee Weber, Debra Needham, and Rob Suggs (EV-44) were co-authors).
  • Exploring end-member volcanism on the Moon at the Aristarchus Plateau (led by Erica Jawin, Smithsonian NMNH; Debra Needham was a co-author).
  • Maximizing the Value of Solar System Data Through Planetary Spatial Data Infrastructures (led by Jani Radebaugh, BYU; Caleb Fassett was a co-author).​

Two Sounding Rocket Proposals Selected for Funding

FOXSI Optics
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The Focusing Optics X-Ray Solar Imager (FOXSI-4; ST12 PI Wayne Baumgartner) and the High-Resolution Coronal Imager Flare (Hi-C Flare; ST13 PI Amy Winebarger) sounding rocket instrument proposals were both selected for funding and will support the Heliophysics System Observatory Connect (HSOC) Program. The FOXSI-4 and Hi-C Flare instruments represent a continuum of MSFC instrument development and support directed at improving multi-spectral (e.g., X-Ray through EUV) imaging resolution and capability for observations and research of the Sun.  HSOC will coordinate ground and space-based observations, including FOXSI-4, Hi-C, the Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter, to address ground-breaking science questions related to solar flares. During the Flare Campaign sounding rockets carrying FOXSI-4 and Hi-C will be launched in tandem to demonstrate the utility of high-resolution multi-spectral observations in studying solar flares.

Lunar Base Handbook Chapter Submitted

Jennifer Edmunson (Space Technology Development Branch) and Heidi Haviland (ST13) were invited to contribute the chapter, “Science of the Moon” for the book, “Handbook of Lunar Base Design and Development”, edited by Peter Eckart and Andrew Aldrin. This is an update to the 1999 previous version. This book is in the final review and editing stages and should be published later this year. This chapter provides a top level summary of the present state of knowledge of lunar science including formation, volcanism, geochemistry, volatiles, impacts from meteorites and solar wind, and the lunar interior in terms of the seismic and magnetic components. Lastly, it concludes with a discussion on future instruments and missions that could help to answer outstanding questions.

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Mitzi Adams Approved for Membership in the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

The mission of the IAU is to promote astronomy in all aspects, which include research, communication, education, and development through international cooperation.  Membership is obtained by recommendation from two members, the submission of a membership package, and subsequent votes by the membership committee.  As a member, Adams (ST13) is eligible for membership in various IAU divisions and Commissions, and she can vote on issues such as classification of planets and naming of planetary features.

This is the official IAU logo to be used on dark backgrounds. Please note that the IAU's logo is protected and may not be used or reproduced without the prior and individual written consent of IAU.

Living with a Star Virtual Program Virtual Town Hall

The Living with a Star (LWS) Program Analysis Group (LPAG) held a virtual town hall on June 18, 2020 via WebEx. Sabrina Savage (ST13) co-hosted the town hall as co-chair of the LPAG Executive Committee. A presentation was delivered to describe the community input process for providing input on LWS program Focused Science Topics, which directly influence future LWS science proposal solicitations. The town hall provided the opportunity for the community to directly ask the committee and headquarters representatives questions concerning the process and implementation strategy.

MSFC Involvement in Heliophysics System Observatory Connect Proposal

The Heliophysics System Observatory Connect (HSOC) Program is a new opportunity competed this year to coordinate ground and space-based observatories in support of Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter to address ground-breaking science questions.  The proposal “Energetics of solar eruptions from the chromosphere to the inner heliosphere” led by Katharine Reeves, Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory (SAO), was selected.  Amy Winebarger (ST13) is a collaborator on this proposal.  If selected, the High-resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) Flare rocket, led by Winebarger, will be launched in support of a Parker Solar Probe flare campaign and during the coordinated HSOC activities.

Marshall Heliophysics and Planetary Scientists Participate in Virtual Meetings

Marshall scientists participated in a special session of the 2020 JpGU/AGU joint meeting and online conference. The session, entitled “Frontiers in Solar Physics”, was organized by Alphonse Sterling (ST13) and Shinsuke Imada (Nagoya U.) and featured invited speaker,  David McKenzie (ST13 Branch Chief) who presented “The Chromospheric Layer SpectroPolarimeter (CLASP2) Sounding Rocket Mission: Introduction”.

Heidi Haviland (ST13) attended the SSERVI Exploration Science Forum, July 8 - 20, 2020 hosted via virtual platforms. This workshop brought together the lunar science community in a virtual format to discuss and highlight current state of knowledge on hot topics including lunar water, dust, as well as upcoming missions like Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER). For more information, see https://lunarscience.arc.nasa.gov/nesf2020/. ​

Hinode 2020 Senior Review Proposal Submitted

Hinode
Hinode transit of venus

The 2020 Hinode Senior Review proposal, entitled “Hinode: A Solar Cycle Reversal of Active Connectivity”, was submitted to NASA Headquarters on 5/24/20 as part of its review of all of the operating NASA solar missions.

Hinode is a solar satellite mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency with major contributions from NASA, the United Kingdom Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. The mission was launched in 2006 as part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Solar Terrestrial Probes Program.  The observatory is equipped with three sophisticated instruments that provide unique capabilities for on-demand observations of small-scale magnetic fields out to large-scale coronal flux topology and plasma dynamics.  Hinode has observed one complete magnetic reversal within a full solar cycle and, in that time, has illuminated our understanding of the origins of space weather and the physics behind dynamic solar processes.  The mission's suite of instruments make it uniquely capable of sensitive, long term measurements of magnetic and high-energy solar variability and highly complementary to other resources within the Heliophysics System Observatory. This proposal to the Heliophysics Senior Review provides highlights of recent results utilizing Hinode mission data and lays out the forward work on the horizon as Hinode will continue to challenge our understanding of the inner workings of the Sun as we embark into the next phase of heightened solar activity.  Due to Hinode's international partnership with Japan, End of Mission Planning (EOMP) is the responsibility of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

NASA International COVID-19 Space Apps Challenge Participation

On May 30 to 31, 2020, over 15,000 citizen scientists from around the world formed over 2,000 virtual teams to compete in a hackathon to solve challenges related to COVID-19 using NASA, ESA, CSA/ASC, CNES, and JAXA’s open-source data in an all-virtual, global hackathon. The objectives were focused on using large data sets and a myriad of processing techniques to learn about the virus and its spread, to understand local and Earth system changes, and to identify economic impacts and recovery opportunities.  Linda Krause participated as a subject matter expert in the live chat rooms in the channel “#light-the-path”, which was the focus area to use “Earth at Night” data from multiple sources (e.g., Black Marble Project, https://viirsland.gsfc.nasa.gov/Products/NASA/BlackMarble.html). The projects were submitted on 5/31/20 and Dr. Krause is on the team of judges to evaluate them.  Winners will be announced in August.

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Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch Scientist Elected to Coronal Loops Workshop Steering Committee

Coronal Loops

Amy Winebarger (ST13) was nominated and elected to the Coronal Loops Workshop Steering Committee.  The Coronal Loops Workshop is an international, biannual meeting that focuses on the structure, evolution, and heating of magnetically closed solar coronal structures.  The Workshop includes presentations on observations, analysis, and modeling of these structures, as well as instrument and technology innovations to better constrain their properties.  Winebarger has been an active participant in the Workshops since their beginning in 2001.  The Steering Committee oversees the planning of the Workshop, including soliciting proposals for locations and appointing the Science Organizing Committee.  Winebarger previously served on the Steering Committee from 2009 - 2015.

Journey Into Space Interview with Mitzi Adams

Mitzi Adams (ST13) was interviewed by author/producer Roger Reid for a virtual event at Springville Public Library, which is located in Springville, Alabama.  The virtual event was scheduled in lieu of what would have been a live discussion of Roger's book “Space" with Springville Middle School students.  

A description of the event may be found here: https://www.smore.com/wxes6-journey-into-space?ref=email.  

The interview is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNKM2f2Kek8&feature=youtu.be.

Paper entitled, "Observation and Modeling of High-Temperature of Solar Active Region Emission During the High-Resolution Coronal Imager Flight of May 29, 2018" Published

A paper has been accepted for publication into the Astrophysical Journal.  The work, led by Hi-C science co-investigator Harry Warren (NRL), uses coordinated data sets and modeling to closely examine time-dependent heating signatures of thin loops in the core of a solar active region.  The results support the presence of high frequency heating contributions.  This paper is the fifth science publication using the Hi-C 2.1 data set.​

HI-C 2 rocket

Papers Published in Astrophysics Journal and Astrophysics Journal Letters

Alphonse Sterling (ST13) is lead author on two paper appearing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. One paper is entitled “Possible Production of Solar Spicules by Microfilament Eruptions. Co-authors include Ronald Moore (UAH), and Tanmoy Samanta, a postdoc working at George Mason University who is partially supported by Sterling.  The other paper is titled “Coronal-Jet-Producing Minifilament Eruptions as a Possible Source of Parker Solar Probe (PSP) Switchback” with Ron Moore (UAH) as a co-author.  In addition, Sterling is a co-author on a paper appearing in the Astrophysical Journal entitled “Onset of Magnetic Explosion in Solar Coronal Jets in Quiet Regions of the Central Disk”.  This paper is led by Navdeep Panesar, previously working at the National Space Science and Technology Center and currently at Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory.  The paper also includes co-author Ronald Moore, University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH).

View the articles at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab86a5/meta and https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab88ce/meta.

Sabrina Savage Selected to Serve on NASA's Sounding Rocket Working Group Committee

Sabrina Savage has been selected to serve on the Solar committee of NASA's Sounding Rocket Working Group (SWRG).  This is a 3-year tour of duty and represents a significant opportunity for the Marshall Space Flight Center.

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