Brian Kruse Brian Kruse

Night Sky Network Webinar Series: The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) Mission

Posted on May 25, 2021 - 5:44 PM CDT

7/20/2021 (Tue) - 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM CDT

Tags: Webinar | SciAct Community

Event information

Join the NASA Night Sky Network on Tuesday, July 20 at 6:00pm Pacific Time (9:00pm Eastern) to hear Dr. Nicholeen Viall give an update on NASA's PUNCH mission to study the Sun's corona.

The Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, is hundreds of times hotter than the visible surface of the Sun below it. This super-hot coronal plasma (electrons and ions) expands outwards in all directions, accelerating up to millions of miles per hour, carrying part of the Sun’s magnetic field with it, and becoming the solar wind. The solar wind fills the solar system, constantly bombarding the planets with plasma and magnetic field. Additionally, the Sun has explosive releases of plasma and magnetic field called coronal mass ejections. These explosions can drive dynamics in Earth’s magnetic field, as well as create shocks and accelerate particles that can damage spacecraft and astronauts. The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) Mission is a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission to better understand these processes of how the energy of the Sun’s corona fills the solar system, and how coronal mass ejections evolve on their way to the Earth and other planets. We will describe the PUNCH mission and how it will answer these fascinating questions about our Sun and space environment. 

About Dr. Nicholeen Viall
Dr. Nicholeen Viall is a Research Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and is the Mission Scientist for the PUNCH mission. She earned her B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Washington, and earned her PhD in Astronomy from Boston University. She is the 2018 winner of the Karen Harvey prize from the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society for a significant contribution to the study of the Sun early in a person’s professional career. She was awarded NASA’s Early Career Achievement Medal for “fundamental contributions to understanding coronal heating and the slow solar wind and for valuable service to NASA, the science community and the public.” She has been a highly visible member of NASA’s outreach and media team, including the August 21, 2017 Eclipse, and the Parker Solar Probe launch and first results, with over 70 live shot television interviews.

Public Viewing Option:
The event will stream live on YouTube. Link:

After the event, this recording will join past webinars featuring NASA Speakers on the NSN YouTube page. Click here to see a list of all previous webinars