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A space mission led by Boulder’s Southwest Research Institute has passed NASA’s preliminary design review and is one step closer to launching four small satellites to study the sun.

The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere mission, known as PUNCH, will study the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, and the solar wind that fills the solar system.

Four suitcase-size satellites are set to launch in 2023.

“PUNCH has had to conduct the entire preliminary design remotely — this is possibly an unprecedented accomplishment for a NASA mission and a testament to the strength and resiliency of the PUNCH team,” project manager Ronnie Killough said in a statement.

Along with the Southwest Research Institute, the PUNCH mission team includes the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and RAL Space in Oxfordshire, England.

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