Heliophysics Sentinels 2020

  • Released Tuesday, September 15th, 2020
  • Updated Friday, August 25th, 2023 at 12:13AM
  • ID: 4822

There have been few changes since the 2018 Heliophysics Fleet. Van Allen Probes and SORCE have been decommissioned, while Solar Orbiter, ICON and SET have been added. As of spring 2020, here's a tour of the NASA Heliophysics fleet from the near-Earth satellites out to the Voyagers beyond the heliopause.

Excepting the Voyager missions, the satellite orbits are color coded for their observing program:

  • Magenta: TIM (Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere) observations
  • Yellow: solar observations and imagery
  • Cyan: Geospace and magnetosphere
  • Violet: Heliospheric observations

Near-Earth Fleet:

  • Hinode: Observes the Sun in multiple wavelengths up to x-rays. SVS page
  • TIMED: Studies the upper layers (40-110 miles up) of Earth's atmosphere. SVS page
  • ICON: Works with GOLD on studies of the ionosphere.
  • AIM: Images and measures noctilucent clouds. SVS page
  • IRIS: Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph is designed to take high-resolution spectra and images of the region between the solar photosphere and solar atmosphere. SVS page
  • SET: Space Environment Testbed exploring radiation-hardening technologies

Geosynchronous Fleet:

  • SDO: Solar Dynamics Observatory keeps the Sun under continuous observation at 16 megapixel resolution. SVS page
  • GOLD: Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk is a spectroscopic imager for studying the ionosphere.

Geospace Fleet:

Lunar Orbiting Fleet:

  • THEMIS-ARTEMIS: Two of the THEMIS satellites were moved into lunar orbit to study the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the Moon. SVS page

Sun-Earth Lagrange Point One Fleet:

The L1 point is a Lagrange Point between the Sun and the Earth. Spacecraft can orbit this location for continuous coverage of the Sun.
  • SOHO: Studies the Sun with cameras and a multitude of other instruments. SVS page
  • ACE: Measures the composition and characteristics of the solar wind. SVS page
  • Wind: Measures particle flows and fields in the solar wind. SVS page

Solar Orbiting Fleet:

Interstellar Fleet:

  • Voyager 1 & Voyager 2: The two Voyager spaceraft orbit originally performed flybys of the outer planets of the solar system but continued to operate. They are now the most distant monitors of the plasma in the space between the stars. At the time of this visualization, Voyager 2 has just crossed the heliopause.SVS page

For More Information

See NASA.gov


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

DE 431
Ephemeris JPL 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

Planetary ephemerides SPICE kernel

See more visualizations using this data set
Space-Track TLE (A.K.A. Space-Track Two-Line Elements)
Ephemeris NORAD 2020-04-01 to 2020-06-01

Satellite ephemerides

Dataset can be found at: http://Space-Track.org

See more visualizations using this data set
SSCweb ephemerides (A.K.A. SSCweb)
Ephemeris NASA/GSFC Space Physics Data Facility 2020-01-01 to 2020-05-24

Satellite ephemerides

Dataset can be found at: http://sscweb.gsfc.nasa.gov

See more visualizations using this data set

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.