License: Creative Commons - Attribution Author: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Two new NASA missions are teaming up to explore the ionosphere, a little-understood area that’s close to home but historically hard to observe.
The two missions provide distinct but complementary perspectives: ICON, in low-Earth orbit, flies directly through and just above regions of interest, capturing detailed remote and in situ data on the forces that shape this area. GOLD, in geostationary orbit over the Western Hemisphere, will build up a full-disk view of the ionosphere and upper atmosphere every half hour, providing detailed large-scale measurements of related processes — a cadence which makes it the first mission to be able to monitor the true weather of the upper atmosphere, rather than the longer cycles of its climate. GOLD is also able to focus in on a tighter region and scan more quickly, to complement additional research plans as needed. Read more: go.nasa.gov/2CR60Er
Image caption: Charged particles in Earth’s atmosphere, which make up the ionosphere, create bands of color above Earth’s surface, known as airglow. ICON, depicted in this artist’s concept, will study the ionosphere from a height of about 350 miles to understand how the combined effects of terrestrial weather and space weather influence this ionized layer of particles.
Credit: NASA Goddard's Conceptual Image Lab/B. Monroe
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