CMAG: A Mission to Study and Monitor the Inner Corona Magnetic Field

Orozco Suárez, David; del Toro Iniesta, Jose Carlos; Bailén Martínez, Francisco Javier; Balaguer Jiménez, María; Álvarez García, Daniel; Serrano, Daniel; Peñin, Luis F.; Vázquez-Ramos, Alicia; Fuentenueva, E-18071 Granada, Spain); Bellot Rubio, Luis Ramón; Atienzar, Julia; Pérez Grande, Isabel; Spain; Spanish Space Solar Physics Consortium; Torralbo Gimeno, Ignacio; Sanchis Kilders, Esteban; Gasent Blesa, José Luis; Hernández Expósito, David; Ruiz Cobo, Basilio; Trujillo Bueno, Javier; Erdélyi, Robertus
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Measuring magnetic fields in the inner corona, the interface between the solar chromosphere and outer corona, is of paramount importance if we aim to understand the energetic transformations taking place there, and because it is at the origin of processes that lead to coronal heating, solar wind acceleration, and of most of the phenomena relevant to space weather. However, these measurements are more difficult than mere imaging because polarimetry requires differential photometry. The coronal magnetograph mission (CMAG) has been designed to map the vector magnetic field, line-of-sight velocities, and plane-of-the-sky velocities of the inner corona with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions from space. This will be achieved through full vector spectropolarimetric observations using a coronal magnetograph as the sole instrument on board a spacecraft, combined with an external occulter installed on another spacecraft. The two spacecraft will maintain a formation flight distance of 430 m for coronagraphic observations, which requires a 2.5 m occulter disk radius. The mission will be preferentially located at the Lagrangian L5 point, offering a significant advantage for solar physics and space weather research. Existing ground-based instruments face limitations such as atmospheric turbulence, solar scattered light, and long integration times when performing coronal magnetic field measurements. CMAG overcomes these limitations by performing spectropolarimetric measurements from space with an external occulter and high-image stability maintained over time. It achieves the necessary sensitivity and offers a spatial resolution of 2.5″ and a temporal resolution of approximately one minute, in its nominal mode, covering the range from 1.02 solar radii to 2.5 radii. CMAG relies on proven European technologies and can be adapted to enhance any other solar mission, offering potential significant advancements in coronal physics and space weather modeling and monitoring.
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