K. D. Kuntz Participates in STORM, NASA’s New Mission to Study the Earth’s Magnetosheath

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Research Scientist K. D. Kuntz will contribute to the Solar-Terrestrial Observer for the Response of the Magnetosphere (STORM) mission that has been selected by NASA for Phase-A study, in preparation for a possible launch in 2026. STORM would provide the first-ever global image of the size and shape of the Earth’s magnetosheath, the vast region where the Earth’s magnetic field interacts with the solar wind. STORM would track the way energy flows into and throughout near-Earth space.

Led by David Sibeck at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, both the JHU Department of Physics and Astronomy (Kuntz) and the JHU APL (Brandt and Hsieh) are contributing to this mission. The University’s role is to help design and test the very wide field X-Ray Imager (XRI) at the heart of the STORM mission.

Dr. Kuntz is designing the optic and related sunshade, running simulations of the instrument, and designing pre-flight tests of the optics. By measuring the solar wind induced charge exchange in the near-Earth environment, STORM will provide the measurements vital to removing this bright, time-variable X-ray emission from astrophysical observations of the Galactic halo and the intergalactic medium, which have been the main objects of Dr. Kuntz’s interest.