Mission Overview

The Student Thermal Activity Energetic Module (STEAM) is a non-critical student built and operated instrument onboard one of the satellites on the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) Small Explorer (SmEx) mission. Originally proposed in 2016 by PI Dr. Craig DeForest from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), PUNCH will be a constellation of four Sun observing satellites; three Wide Field Imagers (WFI), and one Narrow Field Imager (NFI). The main question that PUNCH is trying to answer is “how does the solar corona become solar wind."

STEAM will be searching for solar flares, as well as supporting PUNCH’s mission through the use of two X-ray spectrometers - one soft X-ray (SXR) and one hard X-ray (HXR). The SXR detector will measure X-rays between 1 and 7 keV, and the HXR detector will measure X-rays greater than 7 keV.


STEAM Science Goals

Throughout the course of the rising solar cycle, STEAM is to:

  1. Explore the enhancement of low FIP elements in the solar corona.
  2. Explore how solar coronal plasmas are heated in flares and quiescent active regions.
  3. Support PUNCH science in understanding the source regions of solar wind and coronal mass ejections.

STEAM Iso 1TZ 8 13 2020