Physics And Astronomy Lecture: Explore Solar Wind

Anne Matthews Uncategorized

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern welcomes Dr. Craig DeForest of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado to discuss the exploration of our heliospheric environment and the solar wind with the new PUNCH mission. Dr. DeForest will speak via Southwestern’s Livestream at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 11, 2021. The event is free and open to all students, faculty, staff, and interested community members, and can be viewed at:  

In a preview of his talk, Dr. DeForest tells us, “The solar corona and solar wind are intimately connected, but have – to date – been studied in very different ways. Two NASA missions are working to unify the fields of coronal physics and solar wind physics. Parker Solar Probe (PSP) is bringing direct sampling (“in-situ”) directly to the solar corona. The Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) is an in-development mission to bring imaging techniques outward into the solar wind itself. PUNCH in particular yields a global and cross-scale perspective on solar wind phenomena, that complements the “ground truth” of direct local measurement by PSP during its perihelia. 90 days after a planned 2024 launch, the four PUNCH smallsats will form a planet-sized wide-field camera with a 90° wide field of view centered on the Sun, imaging from 1.25° to 45° from the Sun in all directions.  

The mission will use sensitive photometric imaging to study the origins of the young solar wind as it disconnects from the corona; and polarization measurements to track space-weather-relevant disturbances in 3D through the heliosphere. I will describe and illustrate the PUNCH science objectives and approach, discuss how they interact with current results coming from Parker Solar Probe, and provide updates on the status of the mission as we move toward preliminary design review (PDR) in the spring of 2021.” 

For more information about this and other physics and astronomy events, please contact Dr. Aaron Coyner via email at or via phone at (541) 294-5992. The Physics Department thanks the SWOCC Foundation and interested community donors who help make this series possible.