NASA selects mission to study the boundary of the heliosphere: CBK PAN is a part of the winning team! Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 15:36

CBK PAN will participate in a NASA space mission Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), scheduled for launch in 2024. The selection of the winning proposal submitted in response to the Announcement of Opportunity released in 2017, was announced in Washington DC on June 1, 2018 (

CBK PAN in collaboration with partners from Germany will provide a two-channel EUV photometer GLOWS (GLObal solar Wind Structure) for this mission. The objective of the IMAP mission to investigate the interaction of the solar wind with the Sun's galactic environment and cosmic ray acceleration processes (

The IMAP mission will be developed and carried out by an international research team led by Principal Investigator Dr. David J. McComas from Princeton University (Princeton, NJ). The project will be managed by Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of the Johns Hopkins University (Laurel, MD). IMAP will have ten science instruments, including the GLOWS experiment, developed as a joint project between CBK PAN and German Universities of Bonn and Bochum. The mission will operate near the libration point L1 between the Earth and the Sun, about 1.5 million km from the Earth.

A team of scientists and engineers from CBK PAN, led by Dr. Maciej Bzowski from the Laboratory for Solar System Physics and Astrophysics (LSSPA), proposed for IMAP an instrument for observations of the heliospheric resonant backscatter glows in the hydrogen and helium Lyman-α spectral lines (121.6 nm and 58.4 nm, respectively). With the planned remote-sensing observations, the team will investigate the variation of the solar wind flux with heliolatitude and the temperature of solar wind electrons within a dozen solar radii from Sun's surface, i.e., in the region inaccessible for in-situ measurements by space probes. Also, within the IMAP experiment IMAP-Lo, led by Dr. Nathan Schwadron and Dr. Eberhard Moebius from the University of New Hampshire, scientists from CBK PAN will investigate interstellar neutral gas that penetrates the heliosphere from the solar galactic environment. Results of these studies will improve the understanding of the physical state of interstellar matter near the Sun its interaction with the solar wind.

The two-channel photometer GLOWS will be developed in collaboration between the engineering team from CBK PAN led by Dr. Piotr Orleański and German institutions: Universities of Bonn and Bochum, and von Hoerner und Sulger Company, Schwetzingen, as the industrial partner. CBK PAN will be responsible for the development of the power supply, the on-board computer and software, and for the integration of the instrument. The German partners will provide the detector and optical blocks of the instrument. The Principal Investigator of the German part of GLOWS is Professor Hans J. Fahr from Bonn University.

The selection of our IMAP team announced by NASA is very important for CBK PAN. The IMAP program will be one of the most important topics of the research activity of LSSPA during the coming decade. Realization of the scientific program of the GLOWS experiment, just approved by NASA as part of the IMAP proposal, will result in a better understanding of the three-dimensional structure of solar wind and its evolution during the cycle of solar activity, and in pioneering study of the temperature of solar wind electrons near the Sun. Principal Investigator of the GLOWS experiment, Dr. Maciej Bzowski, stressed that GLOWS team will be able to investigate the fundamental issue of the energy transport in the solar wind close to its source region. Equally important is continuing the studies of interstellar neutral gas. "Our involvement in the IMAP mission will be a continuation of our multi-year program of researching the heliosphere and its Galactic environment, carried out, among others, within the existing NASA mission Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). IMAP will be a quantum leap for us: we will have our own experiment!” - emphasized Dr. Bzowski.

"The role of CBK PAN in the implementation of the GLOWS instrument (power supply, on-board computer and software) is a natural continuation of the work carried out by Laboratory of Satellite Applications of FPGA, based on the experience we have gained in many space missions, including Integral, MEX, Chandrayaan, Herschel, CaSSIS, ASIM, Solar Orbiter, and presently OpSat, PROBA3 and JUICE. The high level of technical readiness of our proposal, supported by a vast heritage of space-proven solutions, was one of important aspects behind the NASA selection of the GLOWS instrument for IMAP" – said Dr. Piotr Orleański. – "Integration of the GLOWS instrument in CBK PAN is a great opportunity to develop another specialization of our engineering team. A very important aspect in this respect is the close collaboration between our engineering and scientific teams".

"I am are delighted to see the proposal of our space experiment GLOWS accepted by NASA. Studies of the heliosphere and its cosmic environment are a very important part of the science mission of CBK PAN. The development and implementation of the GLOWS experiment within the IMAP mission is a natural continuation of a long-standing scientific collaboration between scientists from CBK PAN and the German partners from Professor Fahr's group, as well as our US collaborators Dr. David McComas from Princeton University and Dr. Eberharf Moebius and Dr. Nathan Schwadron from University of New Hampshire within the highly successful NASA mission IBEX. The involvement of our engineering team in the GLOWS project is very important for our institute. Our engineers have a long record of successful collaboration with international partners from Europe (ESA), Russia, China, and India. With GLOWS, we initiate a technical collaboration with NASA" – said Director of CBK PAN, Professor Iwona Stanisławska.

Among the Co-Investigators on the IMAP Science Team will be Dr. Maciej Bzowski, Dr. Justyna M. Sokół, Ms Marzena A. Kubiak from LSSPA CBK PAN and Dr. Paweł Swaczyna, currently a post-doctoral researcher at Princeton University. The engineering team is led by Dr. Piotr Orleański.

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