Improved understanding of the heliosphere, i.e. the area around the Sun and its interaction with the nearest galactic environment of the Sun, as well as studying the processes of acceleration of cosmic ray particles – this is the main goal of the agreement signed today, 14 January 2021 between the Ministry of Education and Science and the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The agreement concerns the financing of the GLOWS experiment and instrument, which the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) is preparing in cooperation with NASA, Princeton University and a number of the world’s major universities and scientific institutes.
The Ministry of Education and Science will allocate PLN 16 million (staggered over the years 2021–2026) for the construction of the instrument and the conduct of the GLOWS experiment (GLObal solar Wind Structure). GLOWS is part of a comprehensive NASA research mission called IMAP (Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe). Its goal is to better understand the heliosphere and how it interacts with the nearest galactic environment of the Sun, as well as to study the processes involved in accelerating cosmic ray particles.
“The cooperation with NASA is a confirmation for the Ministry of Education and Science that the expenditure so far allocated for the development of scientific research in the area of space is an excellent investment. We hope that the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences will be our flagship in NASA and a bridge for further expansion of bilateral cooperation,” said Minister of Education and Science Przemysław Czarnek.
“This type of cooperation is one of the elements of implementing the Polish space policy. Our key partner is the European Space Agency. In December 2020 we allocated additional EUR 3 million for the PRODEX Programme, which allows Polish engineers and scientists to take part in scientific mission projects with strong ESA support. It is thanks to these outlays that we can see the rapid development of the Polish space sector, which translates into bigger and bigger projects implemented by our scientific units and companies,” added Przemysław Czarnek.
The Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences was selected as a partner for NASA’s IMAP mission because of its long experience in studying the heliosphere, in which the pressure of the solar wind outweighs the pressure of galactic matter. The experience was confirmed by cooperation in such missions as IBEX (NASA) as well as Solar Orbiter and PROBA-3 (ESA).
“Our scientific involvement in the NASA IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) mission, especially in the development of the acquired data, as well as our long-standing engineering experience in the development of research instruments for the European Space Agency missions and cooperation with partners from around the world allowed us to win the competition for participation in the IMAP mission. We are responsible for the design and construction of the GLOWS research instrument and the conduct of the entire experiment. This is a long process, spread over many years, requiring meticulousness and constant involvement,” emphasized Professor Iwona Stanisławska, Director of the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences is responsible for the entire process related to GLOWS, from the proposal of the experiment, then the design and construction phase of the instrument to the analysis of the data collected by means of the instrument.
“This agreement is based on the cooperation between NASA and Poland initiated in 1962. We appreciate Poland’s support for the IMAP mission, and together we will work to better understand our space environment,” said Steve Jurczyk, Associate Administrator at NASA.
“The agreement on the implementation of the GLOWS instrument as part of the IMAP mission signed between NASA and the Minister of Education and Science is another example of Polish-American cooperation on great ideas and projects. Let’s explore our galaxy together!” commented Georgette Mosbacher, US Ambassador to Poland.
The IMAP mission is being developed by an international scientific team led by Professor David J. McComas of Princeton University, and the project is being coordinated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). The mission is being coordinated by the Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division at NASA.
The IMAP spacecraft will be equipped with ten scientific instruments, of which one is being constructed by the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
“The Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences has been conducting research on the heliosphere and its environment for years now. The fact that researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences were invited to cooperate by NASA, along with researchers from institutions such as Princeton University and MIT, confirms the highest global level of our space research and the highest efficiency achieved by the best units of the Polish Academy of Sciences. I am glad that another instrument of the Space Research Centre, which this time will be carried into space by a SpaceX rocket, will be tested in operation,” said Professor Jerzy Duszyński, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
In the consortium preparing the mission, in addition to the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences, there are such institutions as MIT, Caltech, JPL and several other renowned research centres and universities. The IMAP satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2025 by a SpaceX rocket.
Source: Ministry of Education and Science
Photo: Space Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences
We also recommend the article “Closer to the boundaries of the heliosphere with a NAWA scholarship”, in which the beneficiary of the Bekker Programme, Justyna M. Sokół (PhD), talks about her research here (Polish version)