The solar wind emitted from the solar corona is a highly ionized plasma composed of electrons, protons, He2+ ions, and a small fraction of heavier...
Space Physics at Princeton
Welcome to Space Physics at Princeton
The Space Physics group in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University carries out a broad range of research spanning from the Sun and solar corona, through the solar wind and terrestrial and planetary magnetospheres, and encompassing the global heliosphere and its interaction with the local interstellar medium. We are the lead institution for numerous NASA Heliophysics missions and instruments that Prof. David J. McComas serves as the Principle Investigator for:
Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission – just selected for development and launching in 2024 to explore the details of particle acceleration and the Sun’s interaction with the local interstellar medium;
Parker Solar Probe (PSP), Integrated Science investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS) instrument suite – launched 8/12/2018 to measure energetic particles as close in as 9 solar radii from the Sun’s surface;
Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission – launched in 2008 and still exploring the boundaries of our heliosphere and its interaction with the local interstellar medium;
New Horizons, Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument – launched in 2006, measured the plasma environments of Pluto and the jovian magnetosphere and continues to make unprecedented observations of interstellar pickup ions;
Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), Solar Wind Electron Proton Alpha Monitor (SWEPAM) instrument – launched in 1997 and still providing solar wind data from the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point (L1);
Two Wide-angle Imaging Neutral-atom Spectrometers (TWINS) mission – returned the first stereo imaging of the Earth’s dynamic magnetosphere from 2008-2017;
Ulysses, Solar Wind Observations Over the Poles of the Sun (SWOOPS) instrument – discovered the three-dimensional structure of the solar wind from the first and only mission to fly over the poles of the Sun (operational from 1990 to 2009).