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Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH): Development Status and Mission Planning

Presentation #401.06 in the session Connections Within Solar Physics.

Published onSep 18, 2023
Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH): Development Status and Mission Planning

The Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) is a NASA Small Explorer mission to image the corona and heliosphere as a single system. The flight assets are four small satellites, scheduled for a 2025 launch into sun-synchronous 6am/6pm low Earth orbit. The four satellites carry four separate, synchronized imaging instruments that work together as a single “virtual coronagraph” covering from 6 Rs to 180 Rs from the Sun. A student-built X-ray spectrometer studies the Sun-as-a-star. The major mission systems — spacecraft and each instrument — are all being integrated now, with final integration scheduled for the upcoming year. Ground systems and analysis methods form a major part of the mission assets, and the science operations center (SOC) is advancing the state of the art in preparing to produce merged, background-subtracted, polarimetric images from the four individual instrument data streams. All PUNCH data are freely available to anyone as soon as feasible. We will report on recent developments and status, plans for the next year, and ways to get involved with the mission to be ready when the data start flowing.

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