NASA’s PUNCH mission will image the Sun. This is a landmark mission that will image regions beyond the Sun’s outer corona.
Indian mission Aditya
India is planning to send up its own satellite Aditya-L1, a mission to study the Sun’s corona.
Constellation of satellites
PUNCH will consist of a ‘constellation’ of four suitcase-sized microsats that will orbit the Earth and study the corona, which is the atmosphere of the Sun. The mission is expected to be launched in 2022. Since the Sun’s corona is much fainter than its surface layers, it cannot be viewed by the instruments directly. So PUNCH will block out the light from the Sun to view its corona and the structures in it.
The mission will image and track the solar wind and also the coronal mass ejections – which are huge masses of plasma that get thrown out of the Sun’s atmosphere. The coronal mass ejections can affect and drive space weather events near the Earth.
Other missions such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the ESA-NASA joint project, Solar Orbiter, which is due to be launched in 2020, will also study the structures of the Sun’s atmosphere.