Space Physics Group’s NASA IMAP Mission to be Launched by SpaceX in 2024

Thursday, Oct 1, 2020
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

A statement released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the award of a launch service contract for the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) Mission to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). A launch date is planned for October 2024.  Princeton’s Space Physics group leads the IMAP Mission, with David J. McComas, Professor of Astrophysical Sciences, serving as the Principal Investigator.  The international team of scientists will study the boundary of the heliosphere, a magnetic barrier surrounding our solar system and will explore the details of particle acceleration and the Sun’s interaction with the local interstellar medium. The team will use a comprehensive suite of instruments to make unparalleled new observations that will build off of data collected from the past space missions of Voyager and IBEX.

Participating researchers from Princeton’s Space Physics group include: Jamie Rankin, Research Scientist; Michael DeLuca, Postdoctoral Research Associate;  Jamey Szalay, Research Scientist; Eric Zirnstein, Research Scientist; and Pawel Swaczyna, Research Scientist.

With SpaceX providing launch services to NASA, the planned launch will take place at Cape Canaveral Airforce Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket. The total cost for the project is estimated at $109 million for the launch and other associated missions.

Read the full NASA announcement here