Solar & Heliospheric Physics
Solar & Heliospheric physics encompasses the study of the sun from its inner core to the hot, tenuous solar corona, and the space dominated by the sun's magnetic field, as well as phenomena racing through interplanetary space like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs). Research at SwRI to study the sun and the interplanetary medium contained within the sphere of the sun's influence (known as the heliosphere) involves several spacecraft missions, including Ulysses, Wind, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), and the Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission. SwRI also serves as the PI institution for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) that was launched in September 2008. IBEX images energetic neutral atoms originating at the edge of the heliosphere and maps the global interaction between the heliosphere and the local interstellar medium. Future missions SwRI is involved in are Solar Probe Plus, which will orbit the sun closer than any previous man-made object to collect unpresedented information, and Solar Orbiter, with an orbit ranging from near Mercury out to 0.9 AU to study the evolution of the solar wind.