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The Naval Research Laboratory team has completed integration and test of the PUNCH Narrow Field Imager (NFI), and delivered the instrument to SwRI for integration into the PUNCH Observatories! NFI is an externally occulted coronagraph based on NRL’s CCOR design. it covers the central part of the PUNCH field of view, from approximately 5 to 32 solar radii from the Sun itself. NFI will be the first primary instrument integrated to a PUNCH Observatory, in late calendar year 2023, and will fly with the rest of PUNCH when the mission launches (est. April 2025).
The Colorado Space Grant Consortium successfully delivered its student collaboration instrument, the STudent Energetic Activity Monitor (STEAM), for integration into the PUNCH OBservatories! STEAM is a soft X-ray spectrometer build around a solid state detector, with a small microprocessor to interface with the spacecraft. STEAM will view the Sun as a star, and probe the energetics of solar falres and coronal heating throughout the PUNCH mission. STEAM will be integrated onto the Narrow Field imager (NFI) Observatory and fly with NFI when the mission launches (est. April 2025).
PUNCH has passed its Critical Design Review, a major milestone in the course of the mission. The three-day design review was a hybrid meeting, held in person at SwRI headquarters in San Antonio, TX, March 1-3. The team presented current mission design, and fabrication, integration, and test plans, to representatives from NASA and from the mission’s independent Standing Review Board. This was the first mission milestone meeting to be held in-person, since the initial Phase B kickoff meeting held in 2019 immediately after selection.
PUNCH has passed its Key Decision Point C, and has been confirmed as a “GO” for development and flight. The decision was made in a hybrid in-person & remote meeting at NASA Headquarters between project management, the Explorers Program, the Mission Directorate, the joints heads of the Science Divisions, and the Associate Administrator for Science. The mission is transitioning to a merged Phase C (Final Design) and Phase D (Assembly, Integration, & Test). PUNCH Phase C/D continues through launch plus 90 days. More details will be posted shortly.
The PUNCH mission consists of four spacecraft in Earth orbit that together will be uniquely capable of imaging the space environment from the outer corona of the Sun all the way to Earth orbit. There is a Near Field Imager and three Wide Field Imagers (WFIs).
SAN ANTONIO — May 24, 2021 — On May 20, 2021, the Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission achieved an important milestone, passing NASA’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of its spacecraft and payload experiments. Southwest Research Institute is leading PUNCH, a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission that will integrate understanding of the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere visible during total solar eclipses, with the “solar wind” that fills the solar system.
On April 8, 2020, the Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission achieved an important milestone, passing NASA's critical System Requirements Review/Mission Definition Review (SRR/MDR). Southwest Research Institute is leading PUNCH, a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission that will integrate understanding of the Sun's corona, the outer atmosphere visible during eclipses, with the tenuous "solar wind" filling the solar system.
The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission has entered Phase B, which marks the transition from concept study to preliminary flight design. The mission, led by Southwest Research Institute, is set to launch in early 2023 and will image the Sun’s outer corona and beyond.