AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 65. Advanced Solar Space Missions
Solar, Oral, Wednesday, June 2, 1999, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, Continental Ballroom C

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[65.07] The Solar Flotilla

S.W. Kahler (Air Force Research Laboratory), J.A. Klimchuk (Naval Research Laboratory), A. Szabo (Goddard Space Flight Center), A.B. Galvin (University of New Hampshire)

The Solar Flotilla is one of two candidate missions for the NASA Roadmap which would use a multispacecraft mission to explore the inner heliosphere. The Solar Flotilla will make particles and fields measurements at 10 or more points around the Sun within a distance of 0.2 to 0.4 AU. Identically instrumented microsatellites will be placed in orbit after a journey to Mercury where they will be injected into three principal orbit planes by 3-body interactions with the planet. Solar Flotilla measurements will address the question of how the solar output of plasma and magnetic flux varies with space and time, similar to the far better understood variations of radiant energy outputs, which can be measured remotely. Fundamental questions of magnetic flux and helicity expulsion can only be studied with such measurements. Additionally, mass flows and their variations can be understood on a global scale with measurements from the Solar Flotilla. The radial and azimuthal variations of turbulence, waves, and particle temperatures and abundances all relate to the heating of the solar corona and the acceleration of the solar wind. The spatial extents and shapes of interplanetary shocks and energetic particle distributions can be studied and used for improved space weather predictions. Together with imaging instruments at 1 AU we can explore the interplanetary extensions of short time-scale coronal features such as blobs and coronal mass ejections and long time-scale features such as plumes and streamers. The number of the spacecraft, their near-solar environment and great distance from Earth pose significant technological problems for operations and communications to be solved before deployment of the mission. We discuss further benefits and requirements of the proposed mission.

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