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Science Objectives

The STP Program is part of are directly tied to Agency Strategic goals. 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.

Four missions are defined at present

  • The Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission is in the Operations Phase.
  • The HINODE (Solar-B) mission, a mission where the STP Program is providing instruments for a mission led by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was launched on September 23, 2006 and is in the Operations Phase.
  • The Solar Terestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission was launched on October 25, 2006 and is in the Operations Phase
  • The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is in Phase A and planned for launch in 2014.

The STP Program is an on-going program. The definition of the sequence and content of additional missions will occur in the future based upon the NASA Strategic Plan.