A solar “WIND” workhorse mission marks 20 years of science discoveries

Wind Spacecraft

The Wind spacecraft has spent much of its 20 years in space out in front of the magnetic fields – the magnetosphere – that surrounds Earth, observing the constant stream of particles flowing by from the solar wind. Image Credit: NASA

The end of 2014 marks two decades of data from a NASA mission called Wind. Wind — along with 17 other missions – is part of what’s called the Heliophysics Systems Observatory, a fleet of spacecraft dedicated to understanding how the sun and its giant explosions affect Earth, the planets and beyond.

Wind launched on Nov. 1, 1994, with the goal of characterizing the constant stream of particles from the sun called the solar wind. With particle observations once every 3 seconds, and 11 magnetic measurements every second, Wind measurements were – and still are – the highest cadence solar wind observations for any near-Earth spacecraft.

The complete Story

Sun Sizzles in High-Energy X-Rays


X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

The complete story, courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is here:


MAVEN Identifies Links in Chain Leading to Atmospheric Loss

Maven over Mars

Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Early discoveries by NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest ‪#‎Mars‬ orbiter are starting to reveal key features about the loss of the planet’s atmosphere to space over time.  The STATIC and SWIA Instruments, developed at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab are both prominently mentioned in the article.

To read the full story, please visit

FOXSI flight completed, with success!


FOXSI Rocket launches from White Sands Missile Range: Image courtesy NASA/FOXSI

FOXSI launched right on time, at 12:11 MST.  During the observation time we observed at least a few solar sources, most likely active regions (as expected).  We also had minutes of observation on the quiet Sun to look for nanoflares.  The observation was tense, but fruitful!  Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this a success!

Update Courtesy of Lindsay Glesener, Follow the Mission Status

FOXSI 2 Set to Launch from White Sands December 11, 2014


The Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI, mission launched for the first time in November 2012, as shown here. It will fly again on a sounding rocket for a 15-minute flight in December 2014 to observe hard X-rays from the sun. Image Credit: NASA/FOXSI

On December 11, 2014, the Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI, mission will launch aboard a sounding rocket for a 15-minute flight with very sensitive hard X-ray optics to observe the sun. This is FOXSI’s second flight – now with new and improved optics and detectors. FOXSI launched previously in November 2012. The mission is led by Säm Krucker of the University of California in Berkeley.

There is no live feed out of White Sands but Lindsay Glesner will be updating mission status. 

FOXSI Mission Specifics

Place: White Sands Missile Range
Date:  Thursday, Dec. 11
Launch time:  12:10 MST / 11:10 PST
Total flight: ~15 minutes
Observation time above 150 km:  6.5 minutes


2014 AGU Public Lecture on MAVEN mission


The 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Public Lecture will be held this Sunday, December 14th from 12 – 1 p.m. (PST) in the Marriott Marquis on 4th and Mission St. The focus of the lecture will be on the MAVEN mission and the speakers will include MAVEN Principal Investigator, Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Deputy Project Manager at NASA Goddard, Sandra Cauffman, and MAVEN Interdisciplinary Scientist, Roger Yelle from the The University of Arizona.

At the Public Lecture, the panelists will discuss the mission science concept, science observations made during the cruise to get there, observations of Comet Siding Spring, and early observations of the Mars upper atmosphere. They will also go into detail about how the spacecraft was developed and launched, and the day-to-day operations as it orbits ‪#‎Mars‬.

If you’re in San Francisco or will be for the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting, hop on a cable car and head over to the Marriott Marquis for this year’s public lecture.

For more information, visit:

The Evolution of Mars


The MAVEN mission is the first to focus on the upper atmosphere of Mars. Currently in orbit around the red planet, it should deepen our understanding of how Mars’s climate has evolved over the last four billion years.

MAVEN Deputy Principal Investigator, Janet Luhmann, from the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley has written a great mission summary for the Room space journal.