Key Project Positions:

  • Project Team Leader /Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Jessica Gaskin (NASA MSFC)
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Steven Christe (NASA GSFC)
  • Project Manager: Ms. Leigh Smith (NASA MSFC)
  • Project Systems Engineer: Mr. Andy Young (NASA MSFC)
  • Mission Manager: Todd Denkins (NASA Langley)

Launch Date: September 2013

HEROES is a NASA HOPE program to train a new group of scientists and engineers to develop and fly HEROES: High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun, a balloon-borne hard X-ray telescope that will observe solar flares with 100 times better sensitivity and 50 times more dynamic range than the best solar observations to date. This novel instrument will also provide new views (improved angular resolution and sensitivity) of hard X-ray astrophysical targets. The most sensitive solar hard X-ray observations are currently provided by the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) and are obtained using a non- focusing imaging technique. Such indirect imaging, however, has intrinsically limited dynamic range and sensitivity, while through direct imaging these limitations can be overcome. Recently, grazing-incidence optics has extended the range of energies that can be focused well into the hard X-ray range. The High Energy Replicated Optics (HERO) instrument, a balloon-borne X-ray telescope developed at NASA MSFC, is already providing high sensitivity X-ray observations of astrophysical sources using this technology. Toward this end, we will modify and fly the HERO telescope to perform solar observations while taking advantage of night-time for astrophysical observations. This effort takes advantage of the experience at MSFC gained from past HERO flights as well as the experience at GSFC to develop instrumentation for solar observations and perform quality solar data analysis. This effort will pave the way for future generations of both solar and astrophysics space-borne hard X-ray imager missions and the scientists and engineers to support them. As such, a major goal, if not the main goal, of this effort is to train NASA scientists and engineers for flight-based missions; fundamental to the realization of future NASA space exploration.


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