Astrophysics’ Dave McComas Leads NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission Making Novel Discoveries about the Sun

Thursday, Dec 12, 2019
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

Dave McComas, Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and the Vice-President for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, recently shared findings from the instrument suites onboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe , revealing new data about the Sun’s coronal activity and the Solar wind. Professor McComas is the principal investigator for the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS) instrument suite leading a multi-institutional team of scientists.  Other members of the Space Physics group at Princeton who have been heavily involved in the project include Jamie Rankin, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Jamey Szalay, Associate Research Scholar.

This Parker Solar Probe mission is the closest that a spacecraft has ever come to the surface of the Sun, enabling first-time data collection and observations of solar energetic particles (SEPs) that are ejected from the strongly  magnetized Solar corona. Acquiring answers to how highly energetic particles form and accelerate is important to improve space weather forecasts and to detect early warning signs of space storms. Storms can have a deleterious effect on communications satellites; global positioning satellites (GPS); and space travel. 

set of study articles was published by the journal Nature in early December and the Princeton University news page has a feature story about the Parker Solar Probe Mission. The story can be read here.