Heliophysics Science Division
Sciences and Exploration Directorate - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

About the Heliophysics Science Division (HSD)

About the Heliophysics Science Division (HSD)

The Heliophysics Science Division (HSD) provides scientific leadership and expertise necessary to achieve NASA's strategic science goals in solar physics, heliospheric physics, geospace physics and space weather. It leads the definition and development of missions in support of these goals and performs fundamental research into solar structure and magnetic activity, the origins and acceleration of the solar wind, the effects of solar outbursts on the heliosphere, the response of the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system at the Earth and other planets to solar variability including solar irradiance. HSD's scientists develop coupled models of the sun and its corona, the heliosphere, geospace, and the high altitude environments of all of the planets; and they propose, develop and fly state-of-the-art instrumentation for photon and neutral atom imaging, electric and magnetic field mapping, and plasma and energetic charged particle measurements. HSD also designs and implements unique data systems that manage a wide range of solar-terrestrial data and enable rapid access and analysis across mission and discipline boundaries for the United States space science community. The scientists in the HSD interpret and evaluate data gathered from its instruments, draw comparisons with computer simulations and theoretical models, and publish the results. HSD's education and outreach activities communicate the excitement and societal relevance of NASA's operating and future Heliophysics missions.

The Division's Vision

A world-class science organization, which is a valuable partner of NASA and the scientific community in the pursuit of scientific knowledge in Heliophysics

The Division's Mission

  • Explore the solar atmosphere and its interactions with the Earth.
  • Lead the conception and development of solar and space physics missions.
  • Communicate science progress to the public and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Fundamental Questions

  • Which key processes govern the dynamics of the solar atmosphere, and its interactions with planetary environments?
  • How does the changing Sun affect the heliosphere and its connections to the magnetized environments of Earth and planets?
  • How do the coupled planetary magnetosphere-upper atmosphere systems respond to changing solar driving?
  • How does the changing Sun determine the space environments throughout the heliosphere for robotic and human heliospheric explorers?

Primary Research Areas

  • Solar convection and magnetic activity
  • Coronal disturbances and Solar Energetic Particle acceleration
  • Heliospheric structure and dynamics
  • Heliospheric interaction with cosmic rays and interstellar medium
  • Magnetospheric dynamics including coupling of the solar wind and the upper atmosphere
  • Ionospheric response to solar energy inputs
  • Space Weather throughout the heliosphere
  • Basic physical processes shaping the structure and dynamics of solar and space plasmas

Observing Techniques

  • Spectral photon imagers
  • Neutral atom imagers
  • Magnetometers
  • Electric field double probes
  • Plasma and energetic particle spectrometers
  • Radio sounders