NASA will fund five 'cutting edge' mission studies involving the Sun

NASA has announced intentions to fund five mission proposals, up to two of which will proceed to full mission status. Under this new effort, the space agency will supply each proposal with $1.25 million, giving the teams behind the efforts nine months to conduct mission concept studies. Each potential mission proposes a Medium-Class Explorer that will revolve around the Sun.

Each of the five newly revealed mission proposals in some way involves the Sun and the wider space environment, according to NASA. The missions are all intended to increase humanity's understanding of the universe, as well as 'key information' relevant to space missions — everything from satellites to astronauts.

NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said:

We constantly seek missions that use cutting edge technology and novel approaches to push the boundaries of science. Each one of these proposals offers the chance to observe something we have never before seen or to provide unprecedented insights into key areas of research, all to further the exploration of the universe we live in.

Ultimately, NASA says that each of the five proposals it selected is designed to 'add a new puzzle piece' to its understanding of the Sun and the surrounding universe. NASA evaluated each proposal for how feasible it would be to launch as a mission, as well as the potential benefits it would offer the scientific community.

The chosen proposals cover topics like space weather, the Sun's corona, space wind, aurora, and the solar poles. NASA details each proposal on its website, though it's yet to be seen whether it selects one or two to proceed forward as official future missions.