HelioSwarm

Sun and earth with blue plasma behind.

HelioSwarm and NASA logos on black background.

HelioSwarm

HelioSwarm is a new $250 million NASA mission led by Harlan Spence, Director for the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. HelioSwarm's novel implementation will unlock the mystery of how turbulence heats space plasma, which is matter that makes up key elements in the Universe, like the Sun, stars, solar wind and even the Earth's upper atmosphere.

The mission will include the development of a suite, or swarm, of nine spacecraft to observe turbulence in the solar wind — charged particles released from the Sun — and the interplanetary magnetic field. One large spacecraft, known as the “hub,” and eight smaller spacecraft, called the “nodes,” will co-orbit to monitor the ever-changing turbulence in space to reveal for the first time how these variations look in three dimensions and how they evolve.

Mission facts

In the News

Duration

12 month science mission accesses all plasma environments

Launch Readiness Date

No sooner than 05/18/2026

Flight System

One hub and 8 co-orbiting node spacecraft

Transfer Trajectory

Hub carries nodes to science orbit using LADEE and TESS heritage phasing loops and a lunar swingby

Science Orbit

P/2 lunar resonant orbit (2-week period) provides access to the pristine solar wind (apogee 60 RE) and robust data downlinks (perigee 17 RE)

Observatory Geometry

Carefully designed S/C separations in polyhedral and 3D

Communications

Hub-ground: S-band to DSN, Hub-node: S-band

Orbit Determination

Ground-based process uses heritage tools, DSN-hub tracking and hub-node relative ranging

Swarm Maintenance

Nodes perform small maneuvers to maintain relative motion and distances

Architectural Redundancy

Baseline science can be met with hub and 6 nodes

Videos

Explore more

Color graph of the HelioSwarm mission.

Learn about HelioSwarm's objectives, instruments, and flight system

Illustration of satellite over earth.

See what media coverage HelioSwarm is getting around the world

Color graph of HelioSwarm position projections.

Get detailed information about the HelioSwarm mission