On April 21, 2023, a coronal mass ejection produced a burst of plasma that generated a severe geomagnetic storm on Earth. Credit: NOAA

LONG BEACH, Calif. – NASA selected five organizations to conduct studies of coronagraphs to fly on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s future space weather satellites.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, EO Vista, the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Southwest Research Institute won $800,000 contracts to perform definition-phase studies of the coronagraph destined for the NOAA Space Weather Next Lagrange 1 mission. The eight-month contracts include $400,000 options to continue the coronagraph studies for an additional four months.

With information derived from the studies, NOAA plans to establish requirements for the coronagraph, which the agency plans to launch on the Space Weather Next Lagrange 1 mission. The coronagraphs are designed to supply NOAA with imagery of the sun’s corona. The imagery helps forecasters detect and characterize coronal mass ejections.

NASA plans to award coronagraph development contracts on behalf of NOAA in 2024.

Space Weather Next Lagrange 1 is a successor to the Space Weather Follow-On mission that is scheduled to travel to Lagrange 1 in 2025 on NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration probe.

The Space Weather Next program was established to ensure NOAA has a continual supply of solar imagery and data into the 2030s. In its 2024 budget request, NOAA is asking Congress to provide $225 million for the Space Weather Next program, an increase of $73.4 million from the $151.6 million appropriated in 2023.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...