Heliophysics Technology Program
The 2013 Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) Decadal Survey calls on NASA to venture into transformative technologies and capabilities. Specifically, the development of new and innovative means of pursuing grand challenge science is critical, taking full advantage of the progress that comes from collaborations between theorists, modelers, computer scientists, and observers.
In response to the Decadal Survey and a 2019 Congressional mandate, the Heliophysics Division established a Technology Program. The future success of Heliophysics depends on the ability to produce novel and transformative technologies, capabilities, and mission concepts. The Heliophysics Technology Program strategically invests in the development and demonstration of instruments and technologies to enable infusion into future missions. Investments in new technologies will enable previously infeasible science investigations; improve existing measurement capabilities; reduce the cost, risk, and/or development times for Heliophysics science instruments and advanced space missions of the future; and yield applications benefits to the broader economy in areas of strategic importance such as space weather.
The Program includes elements which are competitively selected through the NASA ROSES solicitation: Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science (HTIDeS) and Heliophysics Flight Opportunities Studies (HFOS). The program also includes a technology demonstration mission: the Magnetometers for Innovation and Capability (MAGIC).
In 2022, the Heliophysics Division selected Goddard Space Flight Center to manage the Heliophysics Strategic Technology Office (HESTO) to help Headquarters manage a comprehensive plan and strategy for the future of Heliophysics technology investments.
Technology Analysis and Mission Design (TAMD)
The TAMD project will invest in mission concept studies of novel and transformative applications of new technologies in future Heliophysics flight missions. This includes and expands on HFOS. This project also conducts periodic technology gap analyses and analyses of trends in technology development/advancement to identify gaps in Heliophysics technology. This will enable more focused solicitations in the Advanced Technology Development project.
Advanced Technology Development (ATD)
The ATD project will invest in the development of critical and innovative new instruments, technologies, and novel and transformative capabilities to achieve significant progress toward the scientific and technical challenges in Heliophysics in the coming years. This includes and expands on HTIDeS. This project will also establish an incubator process for the most promising early TRL technologies to proactively nurture and advance these capabilities. This project includes direct funding for critical technologies identified through the gap analysis.
This project also includes the new Alternative Initiation of Technology Exploration (AITE) element to grow and diversify the Heliophysics technology development community. As a component of the HTIDeS element, AITE will solicit proposals from non-heliophysics technologists to collaborate with heliophysics scientists and apply their technologies in solving key Heliophysics Science questions. The goal is to tap into non-heliophysics technologists to solve Heliophysics Science questions.
Technology Pathfinder (TP)
The TP project will advance technologies and instruments from a proof of concept to demonstration, maturing transformational technologies across the critical gap that resides between early-stage concepts and flight demonstration. Access to relevant flight demonstration environments will be achieved using ground-based facilities, flight-based platforms such as orbital SmallSats and CubeSats, and suborbital balloons and rockets through the Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research (HFORT) program element. This project will also utilize rideshare opportunities for flight demonstration of more mature technologies to increase the potential for future infusion into larger Heliophysics missions.
Magnetometers for Innovation and Capability (MAGIC)
MAGIC is a five-year project to develop key fluxgate magnetometer technology and to design, build, test, and fly a next-generation spaceflight fluxgate. The MAGIC tool suite is designed to process magnetograms for use in models which require Solar Magnetic field as input and will fill a critical gap in technologies for Heliophysics science measurements. MAGIC is a technology demonstration payload on the TRACERS mission.