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Opportunities for collaborative science with Parker Solar Probe

This page outlines how the orbital configurations of STEREO and Parker Solar Probe can contribute to collaborative science between the two missions. We examine two categories for possible collaborative science: encounters with the planet Venus, and Parker Solar Probe perihelion passages. An additional event where the STEREO Ahead and Parker Solar Probe spacecraft closely approach each other is also examined as an opportunity for cross-calibration of the in situ instruments.

There are a number of ways in which STEREO can support Parker Solar Probe. One way is by providing views of the solar surface and inner corona that are not visible from Earth. Depending on the orbital configuration, STEREO may be able to provide imagery not otherwise available of the solar source regions of the in situ material detected by Parker Solar Probe.

Another favorable configuration is quadrature, when STEREO Ahead and Parker Solar Probe are at roughly right angles to each other. At quadrature, the COR1 and COR2 coronagraphs on STEREO have a good view of the material streaming toward Parker Solar Probe. Given the wide range of longitudes that Parker Solar Probe travels through during its perihelion passes, both STEREO and SOHO will be in quadrature at least part of the pass. Early in the mission, when Ahead and Earth are widely separated, the combination of the two ensures that the entire perihelion pass should be well covered by either Ahead or SOHO.

For the in situ instruments on both spacecraft, interesting configurations include being situation along the same radial direction, or along the same magnetic field line. Because Parker Solar Probe covers a wide range of longitudes during its perihelion observing passes, these alignments often occur at some point during the pass. This figure shows the difference in heliographic longitude between Parker Solar Probe and STEREO Ahead. The upper panel zooms in on when the two spacecraft are within 10 degrees of being radially aligned. The lower panel shows the heliocentric distance for Parker Solar Probe (solid) and STEREO Ahead (dot-dash). The dashed vertical lines mark the positions of the zero crossings in the upper panel. Many of these zero crossings occur close to Parker Solar Probe perihelia.

Other connections can also be explored through the STEREO Orbit Tool.

Close approach

Venus encounters

Perihelion passages


Last Revised: Wednesday, 16-Jan-2019 18:10:39 GMT
Responsible NASA Official: [email address: Therese.A.Kucera<at>nasa<dot>gov]
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