NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has reportedly announced the launch of a satellite to observe the Sun-Earth boundary. Named as CuPID, which is the abbreviation for Cusp Plasma Imaging Detector, the satellite is lighter than a watermelon and no larger than a bread loaf, as affirmed by NASA.
CuPID will orbit close to 550 kms or 340 miles above the surface of the Earth and image the boundary where the magnetic field of the planet connects with that of the Sun.
The satellite will be part of a rocket launch from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base this month. In addition, the rocket will be taking off with the Landsat 9 which is a mission jointly run by the US Geological Survey and NASA. It will also carry four box shaped, compact CubeSats satellites used for space research projects. CuPID will be one of the CubeSats on the rocket.
The small-sized satellite is the joint creation of the Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland, Drexel University, Boston University, Merrimack College, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Johns Hopkins University, and Aerospace Corporation.
Brian Walsh, the Principal Investigator of CuPID and the Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Boston University, quoted that the Earth is properly shielded from the sun’s activity for most of the time as particles and energy from the Sun go all the way around the Earth.
However, changes in the activities of the Sun can strengthen the interaction of its magnetic fields with the magnetosphere of the Earth. This changes the solar radiation which could put astronauts and satellites in harm’s way.
In order to gain an efficient understanding of this phenomenon, CuPID will observe the boundary of the magnetic field of the Earth and evaluate the process as well as the reason for the energy to get in. The satellite will utilize a soft X-ray camera with a wide field of view and study lower energy, or the emission of soft X-rays when solar particles hit the magnetosphere of the Earth.