SunPy to Receive NASA Grant

The SunPy Project and NumFOCUS are pleased to announce that a proposal submitted to NASA Headquarters Heliophysics Data Environment Enhancements Program has been selected for funding.

The one-year proposal, entitled “Supporting and extending SunPy for the heliophysics community,” will create a spectral datatype and provide more coordinate systems in SunPy. In addition, code snippets demonstrating the use of SunPy and other heliophysics-focused Python packages will also be created. Finally, an extensive analysis of the codebase will be performed in order to improve SunPy’s long-term maintainability. The PI is Jack Ireland (NASA GSFC), and the co-I is Andy Terrel (NumFOCUS). In addition, two SunPy affiliated packages were selected for funding from the same NASA program.

NASA Parker Solar Probe Results Rely on SunPy and Other NumFOCUS Tools

In addition, this week marks the release of the first scientific results from the Parker Solar Probe, published in Nature. These results were made possible in part by several NumFOCUS projects: SunPy, NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib.

The Parker Solar Probe is a NASA mission that launched in 2018 – their tagline is “a mission to touch the Sun,” and it has already broken the record for the closest spacecraft to the Sun. The first scientific results were published in the journal Nature on 4 December 2019.

A co-author on one of the results papers, David Stansby, previously published a short paper called “Predicting Large-scale Coronal Structure for Parker Solar Probe Using Open Source Software.” That short paper provided a completely open toolkit (pfsspy), built on the NumFOCUS stack, to make predictions of the Sun’s magnetic field structure. One of the key results presented in the new Nature paper grew directly out of this work, which relies heavily on SunPy, NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib.

“One of the main benefits of open source is making tools and methods accessible so anyone can use them”

“One of the main benefits of open source is making tools and methods accessible so anyone can use them,” said Stansby. “It’s great to see a major NASA mission taking advantage of this to maximise their ability to make new discoveries about the solar system.”

Like other significant discoveries in astronomy, solar/heliophysics scientific results continue to build on the strong foundation of NumFOCUS-supported open source projects. We are proud to represent the community of open source contributors whose work helps make the advancement of space science possible.


Congratulations to SunPy on these two major achievements!