NASA’s SunRISE will be the largest radio telescope ever launched to detect, track explosive space weather events
NASA's SunRISE, short for Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, will be the largest radio telescope ever launched to detect and track hazardous explosive space weather events. Combining the power of six toaster-size satellites, the mission will observe low radio frequency emissions to help scientists understand how the Sun is able to generate intense space weather storms - known as solar particle storms - that can be hazardous to spacecraft and astronauts.
According to NASA, each of the six small satellites will act as a single antenna to detect bursts of radio waves from the Sun's corona - a hotbed of solar activity. Equipped with four telescoping antenna booms that extend about 10 feet (2.5 meters) to form an "X," they will orbit Earth from about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) away, swarming together to trace out one virtual radio telescope.
The first of NASA's SunRISE SmallSats has already been completed at Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) in Logan, which is contracted to build, test, and commission all six satellites for the agency. The mission will be launched no earlier than 2024.
"It's really exciting to see the space vehicles coming together. In a couple of years, these satellites will form a vast space telescope observing the Sun in a way that is impossible from Earth's surface," said Jim Lux, SunRISE project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Six toaster-size satellites will work together to form the largest radio telescope ever launched. SunRISE, the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, is an upcoming @NASA mission aimed at detecting bursts of radio waves from the Sun's atmosphere. https://t.co/yuyylc5KRn pic.twitter.com/Fa1QMWPXHz— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) August 9, 2022
SunRISE will pinpoint where solar radio bursts, or sudden event-type emissions of radio waves, erupt higher up in the Sun's corona. By pinpointing the locations of solar radio bursts, the telescope will illustrate how an early warning of incoming solar energetic particle events might be beneficial.
According to NASA, solar radio bursts have been associated with solar energetic particle events and are known to precede their arrival at Earth by tens of minutes.