Against a black background is a total solar eclipse. In the middle is a black circle – the Moon. Surrounding it are white streams of wispy light, streaming out into the sky.
Against a landscape of a flat field and mountains, several people look toward the sky while wearing eclipse glasses. One woman looks through a telecope.
The Earth, seen from above. A dark splotch of shadow is covering much of North America.

Studying the 2024 Eclipse

As the total solar eclipse darkened a swath of North America when the Moon blocked the light of the Sun for a few minutes on April 8, 2024, scientists had a unique opportunity to study the Sun, Earth, and their interactions.

Scientists on and off the path of totality are studying the Sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona, and the eclipse's impact on Earth's atmosphere.


Across the U.S., from the ground and in the sky


April 8, 2024

Participating Institutions



Study Earth's atmosphere, and the Sun's corona and active regions

Research from the Sky

Chasing the Eclipse with NASA’s High-Altitude Research Planes

Using NASA’s WB-57 high-altitude research aircraft, one project captured images of the eclipse from an altitude of 50,000 feet above Earth’s surface.

By taking images above the majority of Earth’s atmosphere, the team hopes to be able to see new details of structures in the middle and lower corona. The observations, taken with a camera that images in infrared and visible light at high resolution and high speed, could also help study a dust ring around the Sun and search for asteroids that may orbit near the Sun. The project, led by Amir Caspi at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, builds on Caspi’s successful experiment with a new camera suite.

A pilot sits in the cockpit of a small aircraft. The are four people – two on each side of him – working to get the pilot situated.
A suited pilot gets integrated into a WB-57 aircraft during flight preparations and takeoff/landing operations at the U.S. Navy Test Pilots School.
NASA/Bill Stafford

Airborne Imaging and Spectroscopic Observations of the Corona

NASA’s WB-57s also carried instruments to learn more about the temperature and chemical composition of the corona and coronal mass ejections, or large bursts of solar material.

Using cameras and spectrometers, which study the composition of light, one team seeks new insights into structures in the corona and the sources of the constant stream of particles emitted by the Sun, the solar wind. By flying these instruments on a WB-57 plane, the scientists extended their time in the Moon’s shadow by over two minutes. The team is led by Shadia Habbal of the University of Hawaii.

A small white airplane sis on a beige tarmac. It has a skinny nosecone and a fin that sticks straight up, with the NASA insignia.
At Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida, a WB-57 aircraft is ready for a test flight.

Looking at Earth’s Upper Atmosphere from a Jet Plane

A third experiment aboard NASA’s WB-57s studied the charged layer of Earth’s upper atmosphere called the ionosphere.

The ionosphere is affected by the Sun’s radiation and the eclipse serves as a chance to study their connection in a controlled manner. The project uses an instrument called an ionosonde — which functions like a simple radar — designed at JHU APL. The device sends out high frequency radio signals and listens for their echo rebounding off the ionosphere, which allows the researchers to measure how charged the ionosphere is. The project is led by Bharat Kunduri of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

illustration depicting signals passing through ionosphere
Many critical signals for communications and navigation pass through the ionosphere (illustrated here).
NASA Goddard/Krystofer Kim

Studying Earth's Atmosphere


The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, is a collection of radars located at sites around the world. With this network, scientists bounce radio waves off of the ionosphere and analyze the returning signal.

The darkest part of this eclipse’s shadow passes across several locations equipped with SuperDARN radars. SuperDARN monitors space weather conditions in upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, so the eclipse offered a unique opportunity to study the impact of solar radiation on those layers during the eclipse. A project led by Bharat Kunduri of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute State University uses three SuperDARN radars to study an electrically charged layer of the atmosphere, called the ionosphere, during the eclipse. Kunduri’s team will compare the measurements to predictions from computer models to answer questions about how the ionosphere reacts to a solar eclipse.

Several very tall white poles in a straight line, in front of a tall hill.
This SuperDARN array is located near McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
NSF/Peter Rejcek

Sounding Rockets

A NASA sounding rocket mission launched three rockets during the 2024 total solar eclipse to study how the sudden drop in sunlight affects our upper atmosphere.

The Atmospheric Perturbations around the Eclipse Path (APEP) mission is led by Aroh Barjatya, a professor of engineering physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he directs the Space Atmospheric Instrumentation Lab. The three rockets comprising the APEP mission launched at 2:40pm, 3:25pm, and 4:28pm ET from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rockets reached altitudes of 254 miles, 255 miles, and 256 miles (410 kilometers, 411 kilometers, and 413 kilometers), respectively. Each rocket successfully deployed four small scientific instruments that measured changes in electric and magnetic fields, density, and temperature. This launch presents an opportunity to measure just how widespread the effects of an eclipse are.

A rocket launches against a blue sky. A cloud of dust gathers below the rocket.
The third rocket from the APEP mission leaves the launch pad during the October 2023 annular eclipse.
WSMR Army Photo

Flying Kites to Measure Elements in the Corona

One eclipse science project, which aims to identify how particles escape the upper solar atmosphere, is rising above with the help of kites.

Using kites to fly a spectrometer 3,500 feet up helps scientists have a better chance at a clear view of the Sun regardless of weather conditions on the ground during the eclipse. The data from the spectrometer, which measures the abundance of key elements in the corona, will help scientists understand how particles escape the Sun through the corona to form the solar wind. The project, which builds on a successful trial run during an eclipse in 2023, is led by Shadia Habbal of the University of Hawaii.

The eclipsed Sun. In the upper right area of the eclipse, there is a bright flood of white light.
The white, wispy corona begins to peek out around the Moon as the eclipse enters the totality phase.
NASA/Natchimuthuk Gopalswamy

Students Involved in Research

GAVRT Solar Patrol

One team used the 34-meter Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) to measure subtle changes to the radio emissions from active regions during the 2024 total eclipses.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Thangasamy Velusamy, educators at the Lewis Center for Education Research in Southern California, and students in the center’s Solar Patrol program observed solar “active regions” — the magnetically complex regions that are often marked by sunspots — as the Moon moves over them. The Moon’s gradual passage across the Sun will block different portions of the active region at different times, allowing scientists to distinguish light signals coming from one portion versus another. The technique, first used during the May 2012 annular eclipse, reveales details on the Sun the telescope couldn’t detect before or after the eclipse.

An orange, spherical Sun. Toward the middle is a large cluster of black splotches.
This image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a large sunspot group, the visible part of an active region on the Sun.
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/SDO

Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project

Teams made up of over 750 student participants scattered across the U.S. launched balloons into the Moon’s shadow.

The project involves 53 teams from 75 participating institutions that follow two tracks: engineering and atmospheric science. Engineering teams used innovative large balloon systems to live stream video, observe how Earth's atmosphere changes, and conduct individually designed experiments. Atmospheric science teams flew weather sensors every hour for 24 hours prior to the eclipse and 6 hours after it to study the atmospheric response to the cold, dark shadow.

NASA Goddard post-doctoral fellow John Sullivan, center, along with interns Lindsay Rodeo, left, and Lance Nino, prepare to launch a balloon that will take ozone measurements in the skies over southeastern Virginia.
NASA Goddard post-doctoral fellow John Sullivan, center, along with interns Lindsay Rodeo, left, and Lance Nino, prepare to launch a balloon that will take ozone measurements in the skies over southeastern Virginia.
NASA/David C. Bowman

Get Involved!

An illustrative poster shows the black silhouettes of five people of different heights wearing red eclipse glasses and looking at a total solar eclipse. One person points toward the eclipse. The eclipse is represented as a black disk surrounded by concentric circles of yellow and orange with white, orange, and red rays. Several spheres appear around the eclipse. At the bottom are the words “Through the eyes of NASA” and the NASA logo appears in the upper right.

Eclipse 2024 Citizen Science

Did you know there are other NASA projects studying the eclipse that involve citizen scientists? Opportunities across the eclipse path are available for people with any citizenship and experience level!

A bright looping burst of material flows off the Sun

Eclipse Science Resources

The Whole Heliosphere and Planetary Interactions group has curated a repository for eclipse activities. This list includes eclipse model predictions, various observatories, activities, and experiments.

Two women sit at a desk outside. The desk is decorated with art that represents an annular eclipse. There are people and a camera recording them. In the background are mountains.

NASA's Eclipse Broadcast

Watch the broadcast of the total solar eclipse, telescope feeds across the path, a broadcast in Spanish, and a live stream of sounding rockets, aired live on April 8, 2024.