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STP Program Details

The Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) Program is part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division. The Program addresses fundamental science questions about the physics of space plasmas and the flow of mass and energy through the solar system. STP program objectives are to:

  • Understand the fundamental physical processes of the space environment from the Sun to Earth, to other planets, and beyond to the interstellar medium.
  • Understand how human society, technological systems, and the habitability of planets are affected by solar variability and planetary magnetic fields
  • Develop the capability to predict the extreme and dynamic conditions in space in order to maximize the safety and productivity of human and robotic explorers.

These objectives support the Agency’s strategic goal to understand the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system. The Earth and Sun are linked together to form the system that has given origin and sustenance to our lives. STP missions will study the Earth and Sun system for insights into questions concerning how the system evolved so as to produce and sustain life, what will happen to this unique environment through the course of time, and how it will affect us.

Program Overview

STP missions focus on specific scientific areas required to advance our fundamental understanding of the Sun – Solar System connection. Successive missions target the “weakest links” in the chain of understanding. The missions use a creative blend of in situ and remote sensing observations, often from multiple platforms, to understand the causes and effects of solar variability over the vast spatial scales involved in planetary and heliospheric responses.

Science priorities are derived from the NASA Strategic Plan and are defined in the Science Plan for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate 2007-2016. Because the STP program is an ongoing program, definition of the sequence and content of additional missions will occur in the future, based upon NASA’s strategic planning activities.