National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
SWAP on New Horizons
SWAP on New Horizons (click to enlarge)

SWAP on New Horizons

The Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument is designed to measure the interactions of Pluto and Charon with the solar wind, the high-speed stream of charged particles flowing out from the Sun. Understanding these interactions will expand researchers' knowledge of the astrophysical processes affecting these bodies and that part of the solar system.

SWAP uses detectors that are sensitive to energetic atoms, energetic electrons and ultraviolet light. Because SWAP is targeting energetic particles only, ultraviolet light is considered noise. To eliminate ultraviolet photon counts, researchers build serrations into the instrument so that when ultraviolet photons enter SWAP, they will reflect off the serrations and out of the instrument in as few as three bounces. This technique does not affect the energetic particle counts.

The incredible distance of Pluto from the Sun required that the SWAP team build the largest aperture instrument ever used to measure the solar wind  it will allow SWAP to make measurements even when the solar wind is very tenuous.

More on SWAP:
Story: SWAP instrument profile.
Image: Detailed View of SWAP.

Image Credit: NASA and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 20 Jan 2011