Final flight model for PUNCH has shipped
16 Nov 2022



RAL Space has shipped the remaining two of five CCD Camera Electronics systems for NASA’s Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission.

Camera electronic system undergoing testing on vibration table for PUNCH mission

​​​PUNCH being put through its paces

Credit: STFC RAL Space

PUNCH will track large eruptions of material from the Sun, known as 'coronal mass ejections' (CMEs), as they travel from the Sun's atmosphere through the inner solar system.

The camera electronics will be integrated with the science instrumentation and spacecraft systems by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the mission lead in Boulder, Colorado, in the USA.

Dr Nick Waltham, Chief Technologist at RAL Space said:

“Project responsibility for the design, development, manufacture and testing of PUNCH's camera electronics has been a fantastic challenge, and really built upon our previous heritage in solar physics missions. We're excited to see the project moving forward towards its launch in 2025 and seeing what our cameras are able to capture.

“It has been a long journey, mostly conducted through the additional challenges of the COVID pandemic, and everyone in the team should be hugely proud of what we have achieved here."


The PUNCH mission consists of four suitcase-sized satellites, three with Wide Field Imagers and the fourth with a Narrow Field Imager. These instruments will work seamlessly together to provide a single large field of view of the complex behaviour of the solar wind as it leaves the Sun's outer atmosphere and begins to travel through the solar system.

Using PUNCH, scientists will be able to improve our understanding of the origins of space weather events at the Earth, which can disrupt critical infrastructures including satellite navigation systems and telecommunications. Advanced scientific research could help to develop new techniques to predict space weather events before they reach Earth, giving enough time to mitigate against their effect.

Rigorous testing

Before delivery to the US, the camera electronics systems have each undergone rigorous testing in RAL Space's test facilities. RAL Space scientists will also perform calibration on the imagery once the mission has been launched.

RAL Space electronics are at the heart of many major space missions. The design for PUNCH builds on the camera electronics for instruments on board NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory which has been providing spectacular solar imagery since 2010.

PUNCH team at RAL Space

The PUNCH team at RAL Space | Credit: STFC RAL Space

Towards launch in 2025

This mission milestone comes soon after the announcement that PUNCH will share a ride to space with NASA's Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Re-ionization, and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than April 2025. 

Technician working with an engineering model

PUNCH's engineering model on the bench at RAL Space | Credit: STFC RAL Space​​