IMAP Passes System Integration Review (SIR)

Sept. 25, 2023

The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) marked the completion of an important step on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations this week at Johns Hopkin Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). 

The team met with a review panel to evaluate the plan for integrating all systems onto the spacecraft, such as the scientific instrumentation, electrical and communication systems, and navigation systems. Successful completion of this System Integration Review (SIR) means that the project can proceed with assembling and testing the spacecraft in preparations for launch. This process is a bit like a carefully choregraphed dance where the instruments and support systems are delivered to different facilities, tested together in chambers in Los Alamos, New Mexico, San Antonio, Texas, and Princeton, New Jersey, and shipped back to be integrated and tested again altogether. 

On Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, the chair of the Standing Review Board announced that the IMAP project successfully passed the SIR requirements to proceed to integration and test.

“I am incredibly proud of the entire IMAP team for everyone’s hard work and determination in getting us to and through this critical milestone,” said David McComas, IMAP mission principal investigator and Princeton University professor, “we are now moving on to spacecraft integration and test, where all of the individual subsystems and instrument merge together to create our full IMAP observatory.”

The IMAP mission, which will be ready to launch in 2025, will explore our solar neighborhood, decoding the messages in particles from the Sun and beyond our cosmic shield. The mission will map the boundaries of the The region around the Sun where the solar wind dominates over the interstellar medium. – the electromagnetic bubble surrounding the Sun and planets that is inflated by the A stream of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons, that escapes into the Sun's outer atmosphere at high speeds and streams out into the solar system..

David J. McComas leads the mission with an international team of 25 partner institutions. APL is managing the development phase, building the spacecraft, and will operate the mission. IMAP is the fifth mission in The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.’s Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) Program portfolio. The Explorers and Heliophysics Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the STP Program for the agency’s Heliophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.