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 principal 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).



Research News

Thursday, Sep 9, 2021

The zodiacal cloud is one of the largest structures in the solar system and strongly governed by meteoroid collisions near the Sun.

Monday, Aug 9, 2021

The heliospheric energetic neutral atom spectrum observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) reveals that the heliosheath proton...

Monday, Aug 9, 2021

Power spectra of magnetic-field fluctuations near Jupiter have been analyzed since the early days of space exploration with Voyager and Ulysses...

Friday, Jul 16, 2021

The observation of numerous magnetic switchbacks and associated plasma jets in Parker Solar Probe (PSP) during its first five orbits, particularly...

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

In this study, we extend the prior interstellar pickup ion (PUI) observations from the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument on New Horizons...

Monday, May 17, 2021

Congratulations to Tyler Eddy, Andres Montoya and Alexandros Papamatthaiou as they succesfully graduated as part of the class of 2021. 

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2021

Direct sampling of interstellar neutral (ISN) atoms close to the Sun enables studies of the very local interstellar medium (VLISM) around the...

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021

Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) observations of the "ribbon" of enhanced energetic neutral atom (ENA) fluxes show that it is a persistent...

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021

Properties of the inner heliosheath (IHS) plasma are inferred from energetic neutral atom (ENA) observations by ~1 au spacecraft.

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021

Field-aligned proton beams are a systematic and identifiable feature associated with Jupiter's auroral emissions, transporting 3 ± 2 kg s−1 away...