Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP): A New NASA Mission

Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018

The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) is a revolutionary mission that simultaneously investigates two of the most important overarching issues in Heliophysics today: the acceleration of energetic particles and interaction of the solar wind with the local interstellar medium. While seemingly disparate, these are intimately coupled because particles accelerated in the inner heliosphere play critical roles in the outer heliospheric interaction. Selected by NASA in 2018, IMAP is planned to launch in 2024. The IMAP spacecraft is a simple sun-pointed spinner in orbit about the Sun-Earth L1 point. IMAP’s ten instruments provide a complete and synergistic set of observations to simultaneously dissect the particle injection and acceleration processes at 1 AU while remotely probing the global heliospheric interaction and its response to particle populations generated by these processes. In situ at 1 AU, IMAP provides detailed observations of solar wind electrons and ions; suprathermal, pickup, and energetic ions; and the interplanetary magnetic field. For the outer heliosphere interaction, IMAP provides advanced global observations of the remote plasma and energetic ions over a broad energy range via energetic neutral atom imaging, and precise observations of interstellar neutral atoms penetrating the heliosphere. Complementary observations of interstellar dust and the ultraviolet glow of interstellar neutrals further deepen the physical understanding from IMAP. IMAP also continuously broadcasts vital real-time space weather observations. Finally, IMAP engages the broader Heliophysics community through a variety of innovative opportunities. This paper summarizes the IMAP mission at the start of Phase A development.

Read the paper.