Apr 7, 2024 - World

Here's what NASA will study during Monday's eclipse

An illustration showing three spotlights shining on the moon.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

NASA has funded at least five research projects during the upcoming total solar eclipse.

Why it matters: The observations will help researchers understand the myriad ways the Sun influences Earth and the life upon it.

✈️ Chasing the eclipse with NASA's high-altitude research planes:

  • Teams led by Southwest Research Institute will take pictures of the eclipse while flying NASA research aircraft to study dust or asteroids that may orbit our star.
  • The research jets will also carry instruments from a University of Hawaii-led team to gain insights into the sun's corona and coronal mass ejections.

📻 Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation:

  • A University of Scranton-led initiative will invite ham radio operators around the country to send and receive signals to one another before, during and after the eclipse and to record how strong their signals are and how far they travel.
  • The initiative hopes to observe how the eclipse affects the ionosphere, a part of Earth's upper atmosphere that's critical for radio communications and navigational systems.

☀️ SuperDARN:

  • Using the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, researchers led by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will study how solar radiation impacts the ionosphere, which could give insights into space weather.

🔭 GAVRT Solar Patrol:

  • Scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Lewis Center for Education Research will use the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope to measure subtle changes in solar radio emissions as the Moon eclipses active regions of the Sun.

🚀 Atmospheric Perturbations around the eclipse path:

  • A University in Daytona Beach-led team will launch a succession of three rockets from eastern Virginia before, during and after the eclipse to measure electric, magnetic, temperature and density changes in Earth's upper atmosphere.

👩‍💼 Citizen science:

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