NASA's Heliophysics Mission Fleet: Unveiling the Secrets of Our Star

This past October, NASA launched the Heliophysics Big Year ­– a global celebration of solar science and the sun's influence on Earth and the entire solar system. And Shores & Islands Ohio couldn't be more excited about it. 

As such, we're following NASA on their Heliophysics Big Year journey and taking you along with us! Each month leading up to the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024, we will highlight a specific heliophysics topic and explain how it interacts with everything in our solar system. 

This month, we're diving into NASA's Heliophysics mission fleet, including its newest member, the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE).

What is NASA's Heliophysics Mission Fleet?

NASA's Mission Fleet

NASA's commitment to unraveling the mysteries of our sun and its profound impact on our solar system is exemplified through its Heliophysics mission fleet. This constellation of spacecraft and scientific instruments is on a mission to explore the dynamic nature of the sun and the space environment around it.

Understanding the Significance

The sun, a colossal ball of burning plasma, is the powerhouse of our solar system. Its activities, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, can influence space weather and impact technologies on Earth. To comprehend and predict these solar phenomena, NASA's Heliophysics mission fleet plays a pivotal role.

These spacecraft are equipped with cutting-edge instruments designed to study various aspects of the sun, from its surface to its outer atmosphere. Scientists gain valuable insights into the fundamental processes that drive solar activity by collecting data on solar wind, magnetic fields, and solar radiation. NASA's Mission Fleet Chart will give you a better visual.

AWE: A New Addition to the Fleet

AWE satelliteAmong the impressive array of instruments and spacecraft within the Heliophysics mission fleet, one newcomer is turning heads—the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE). Launched in October, AWE is set to enhance our understanding of the sun's influence on Earth's atmosphere.

AWE focuses on studying atmospheric waves, which are crucial for comprehending the interconnected systems that drive weather patterns and climate on our planet. By observing these waves, scientists aim to decipher how solar activity affects our atmosphere, providing crucial information for weather forecasting and climate modeling.

The Road to the Total Solar Eclipse

As we journey through NASA's Heliophysics Big Year, we are building up to a celestial event of epic proportions—the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. This rare occurrence, where the moon completely covers the sun, will cast a shadow on Earth, turning day into night for a brief but awe-inspiring moment.

And where better to witness this cosmic spectacle than Shores & Islands Ohio? The region is a hub of natural beauty and an ideal location to experience the Total Solar Eclipse. As the moon obscures the sun, leaving only its outer atmosphere, known as the solar corona, visible, observers in this area will be treated to a breathtaking display of cosmic wonder.

Mark Your Calendar and Join Us!

As we delve into heliophysics and prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse, we invite you to mark your calendar for April 8, 2024. Shores & Islands Ohio beckons you to witness the Total Solar Eclipse in our beautiful region.

In the coming months, stay tuned as we continue our exploration of NASA's Heliophysics Big Year and the captivating discoveries that await us. Next up… citizen science!

Check out to learn more about the region and make your plans to visit!

Stacked Solar Eclipse