Shaheen Congratulates UNH Researchers’ HelioSwarm Mission for Being Chosen By NASA For $250M Heliophysics Competition

February 10, 2022

**Shaheen is Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that Funds NASA**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA, congratulated the HelioSwarm mission – led by a team of researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center (SCC) – for being selected by NASA to research the Earth-Sun environment. As one of two winners of the Heliophysics Medium-Class Explorer (MidEx) competition, the $250 million mission will improve our understanding of the dynamics of the Sun, its connection to the Earth and the universe.

The HelioSwarm mission’s principal investigator is Harlan Spence from UNH and NASA’s Ames Research Center will provide project management. The University of New Hampshire is a leading heliophysics research institution, with instruments on 16 of 22 operating heliophysics missions.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate the HelioSwarm mission – led by UNH’s very own Harlan Spence – on being selected by NASA for this highly competitive, distinct achievement. UNH is brimming with many of the brightest minds in heliophysics, and I’m so excited to see what new discoveries emerge from this mission,” said Senator Shaheen. “This groundbreaking mission will advance our understanding of our planet, the Sun and our universe. As Chair of the Subcommittee that funds NASA, I will continue to prioritize funding to ensure our nation leads in space exploration, with premier research institutions like UNH at the helm.”

“We are incredibly proud and excited to have been selected for a NASA MIDEX space mission,” said Harlan Spence, professor of physics and astronomy and HelioSwarm principal investigator. “Plasma turbulence is one of the fundamental, yet poorly understood, building blocks of how our sun affects the solar system including space near Earth, and being able to lead this mission is a testament to the high level of expertise and outstanding work being done at UNH’s Space Science Center.”

As Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA, Senator Shaheen secures annual funding to support America’s continued leadership in space. In funding legislation announced by the Appropriations Committee in October, she helped secure $24.8 billion for NASA, including significant support for NASA Heliophysics. Senator Shaheen previously hosted a virtual roundtable with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to highlight contracting opportunities for Granite State small businesses to support NASA’s ongoing space exploration technology research efforts and the Artemis program, which aims to land the next humans on the Moon. In 2019, Bridenstine joined Shaheen in visits to the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center and Mikrolar, a contractor for NASA. The events came on the heels of UNH’s selection by NASA for a highly-competitive $107.9 million contract award through the Earth Venture program.

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