Scientist From Springfield Delighted At Solar Mission's Success

Nov 15, 2019

A Springfield native turned astrophysicist is excited for newly-released data on the Parker Solar Probe.

Rendition of the Parker Solar Probe.
Credit Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Tony Case works for the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and helped develop instrumentation for the NASA spacecraft.  Since being launched last year, the probe has been orbiting the sun, gathering readings on its outer atmosphere.

Case and his team developed what’s called the solar probe cup.

Tony Case, outside his Massachusetts home, 2018.
Credit Esteban Bustillos / WGBH

“It looks just like a cup, maybe more like a tuna can," Case tells KLCC.  "And it points right toward the sun and all the particles that are coming from the sun get caught in this cup, and we can actually measure how fast they’re going, how hot they are, what they’re made of.

"We take a look at those data in conjunction with the magnetic field, and other measurements that are being made. And that sort of gives us a full picture of what’s taking place in the corona, around the sun.”

The publicly-released data is available online. The groundbreaking mission has been sixty years in the making.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.