Heliophysics Sentinels 2020
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
This visualization presents orbits of the current heliophysics satellites covering the space near Earth, out to the orbit of the Moon.
- 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
- 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.
- Geotail: Conducts measurements of electrons and ions in the Earth's magnetotail. SVS page
- Magnetospheric Multi-scale (MMS): This is a group of four satellites which fly in formation to measure how particles and fields in the magnetosphere vary in space and time. SVS page
- THEMIS: This is a fleet of three satellites to study how magnetospheric instabilities produce substorms. Two of the original five satellites were moved into lunar orbit to become THEMIS-ARTEMIS.SVS page
- IBEX: The Interstellar Boundary Explorer measures the flux of neutral atoms from the heliopause. SVS page
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
This visualization presents orbits of the current heliophysics satellites covering the space near Earth, out to the Moon and then to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point, L1.
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
This visualization presents orbits of the current heliophysics satellites covering the space near Earth, out to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point, L1, and finally a view of the current missions operating in the inner solar system.
This visualization presents orbits of the current heliophysics satellites covering the space near Earth, through the solar system, and concluding with a view of the Voyagers, just outside the heliopause.
- 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
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
- Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.) [Lead]
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
- Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD)
- Hinode (Solar-b)
- Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON)
- IRIS: Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph
- Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS)
- Parker Solar Probe
- Solar Orbiter Collaboration
- Space Environment Testbeds (SET)
- THEMIS and ARTEMIS
SeriesThis visualization can be found in the following series:
Datasets used in this visualization
SSCweb ephemerides (SSCweb)ID: 538Ephemeris NASA/GSFC Space Physics Data Facility 2020-01-01 to 2020-05-24
Space-Track TLE (Space-Track Two-Line Elements)ID: 753Ephemeris NORAD 2020-04-01 to 2020-06-01
DE 431ID: 985Ephemeris JPL 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31
Planetary ephemerides SPICE kernelSee all pages that use this dataset
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.