Cover page of the C-SPEX proposal to the 2011 NASA Explorer Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity call for mission concepts illustrating the accommodation of the proposed instrument on the International Space Station
Cover page of the C-SPEX proposal to the 2011 NASA Explorer Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity call for mission concepts illustrating the accommodation of the proposed instrument on the International Space Station

Objective
Develop a mission concept to achieve a new capability for predicting the incidence and severity of solar energetic particle (SEP) events by detecting suprathermal seed particles currently thought to be essential for acceleration of high-energy particles in the solar corona.
SEPs can interrupt satellite-based comms, generate single event effects that destroy even hardened space assets, adversely affect ISR, precision engagement, missile detection and intercept, and polar flight activities.

Approach
C-SPEX: a coronagraphic ultraviolet (UV) spectrometer

  • C-SPEX determines the presence of suprathermal particles in the corona by detecting characteristic line-broadening in resonant scattered light from atomic hydrogen
  • NRL is C-SPEX PI institution for NASA; consortium of US and international partners
  • Builds on UV coronagraphs in the successful NRL-led HERSCHEL (Helium Resonant Scattering in the Corona and Heliosphere) sounding rocket mission

C-SPEX Mission:

  • C-SPEX is designed to be accommodated as a standard ISS ExPRESS (Expedited Processing of Experiments to Space Station) payload
  • C-SPEX makes a definitive remote sensing suprathermal particle measurement at two coronal heights each orbit

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • Invented the nested coronagraph concept that achieves a 500X improvement in throughput within the same instrument volume as previous state of the art
  • Calculated the optimum spectral target for observation
  • C-SPEX would be able to achieve an entirely new capability to predict the incidence and severity of satellite-killing SEP events. No such capability currently exists