|Mission type||Technology, heliophysics|
|Spacecraft type||Solar sail|
|Dimensions||Sail: 1,672 m2 (18,000 sq ft)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||October 2024 (proposed)|
Solar Cruiser is a proposed NASA spacecraft that would study the Sun while propelled by a solar sail. The mission would support NASA's Heliophysics Solar Terrestrial Probes program by studying how interplanetary space changes in response to the constant outpouring of energy and particles from the Sun and how it interacts with planetary atmospheres.
If selected for launch, the Solar Cruiser mission would demonstrate solar sailing around the Sun at an unusual polar orbit, while the coronagraph instrument would enable simultaneous measurements of the Sun's magnetic field structure and velocity of coronal mass ejections. A nearly 1,672 square metres (18,000 sq ft) solar sail would demonstrate the ability to use solar radiation as propulsion and facilitate views of the Sun not easily accessible with current technology, such as a close-up view of its poles.
Solar Cruiser was awarded $400,000 for nine-month mission concept studies to be presented to the Heliophysics Solar Terrestrial Probes program, which is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. If selected for development, it would launch in October 2024 along with the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP).
- "NASA Selects Proposals to Demonstrate SmallSat Technologies to Study Interplanetary Space" (Press release). NASA. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
- "In 2024, our Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe will launch with two other science missions and a technology demonstration..." NASA Sun Science. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019 – via Facebook.
- NASA Sun & Space [@NASASun] (15 August 2019). "In 2024, our Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe will launch with two other science missions and a technology demonstration! We've selected two possibilities for the small satellite tech demo, one of which will hitch a ride on the launch: go.nasa.gov/33FuXQi" (Tweet). Retrieved 20 August 2019 – via Twitter.
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