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ЦитатаPegasus Rocket Prepared for NASA's ICON MissionPosted on October 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm by Linda Herridge. The second and third stages of the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket were offloaded fr om a transport vehicle at Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: Randy Beaudoin Orbital ATK's Pegasus XL rocket is being prepared to launch NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON mission. The rocket is being prepared in a facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.The rocket's second and third stages, first stage motor and wing arrived at VAFB and were transported to Building 1555 for processing.ICON will launch aboard Pegasus from the Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, on Dec. 9, 2017 (in the continental United States the launch date is Dec.8 ).ICON will study the frontier of space -- the dynamic zone high in Earth's atmosphere wh ere terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above. The explorer will help determine the physics of Earth's space environment and pave the way for mitigating its effects on our technology, communications systems and society. Workers transfer the wing for the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from a truck to a forklift at Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: Randy Beaudoin
ЦитатаExplorer: ICON (MIDEX 8 ) ICON (MIDEX 8 ) [OSC] ICON (Ionospheric Connection) will explore the boundary between Earth and space - the ionosphere - to understand the physical connection between our world and the immediate space environment around us. This region, where ionized plasma and neutral gas collide and react exhibits dramatic variability that affects space-based technological systems like GPS.Though the solar inputs are now well quantified, the drivers of ionospheric variability originating from lower atmospheric regions are not. ICON is the first space mission to simultaneously retrieve all of the properties of the system that both influence and result from the dynamical and chemical coupling of the atmosphere and ionosphere. ICON achieves this through an innovative measurement technique that combines remote optical imaging and in situ measurements of the plasma. With this approach, ICON gives us the ability to (1) separate the drivers and pinpoint the real cause of ionospheric variability (2) explain how energy and momentum from the lower atmosphere propagate into the space environment, and (3) explain how these drivers set the stage for the extreme conditions of solar-driven magnetic storms. ICON's imaging capability combined with its in-situ measurements on the same spacecraft (Figure 1) gives a perspective of the coupled system that would otherwise require two or more orbiting observatories.ICON targets the low-latitude ionosphere because recent global-scale observations of this region show remarkable spatial and temporal variability that contravene the conventional view of ion-neutral coupling in space, and evince strong forcing by lower atmosphere drivers. The coupling of the atmosphere to space is strongest at these latitudes because the atmospheric waves are largest and so is the density of the space plasma, produced in abundance by the sun overhead and confined by the magnetic field.Following instruments are on boards: [/li]MIGHTI (Michelson Interferometer for Global High-Resolution Thermospheric Imaging): Remotely measuring the neutral wind field and temperatures - Heritage from SHIMMER flown on STPSat-1.EUV (Extreme Ultra-Violet): Measuring the height and density of the daytime ionosphere - Heritage from SPEAR flown on the Korean STSAT-1.FUV (Far Ultra-Violet): Measuring the daytime atmospheric composition and the ionosphere at night - Heritage from FUV flown on IMAGE.IVM (Ion Velocity Meter): Measuring the electric fields detected at the satellite - Heritage from IVM flown on C/NOFS CINDI.Orbital was selected to provide a LEOStar-2 based bus.ICON will launch by 2017 into a low earth orbit, operating for at least two years. A Pegasus-XL launch vehicle was selected in November 2013 for a launch in 2017. [TH]Nation:[/TH] USA[TH]Type / Application:[/TH] Research, ionosphere[TH]Operator:[/TH] University of California, Berkeley for NASA[TH]Contractors:[/TH] Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC)[TH]Equipment:[/TH] MIGHTI, EUV, FUV, IVM[TH]Configuration:[/TH] LEOStar-2[TH]Propulsion:[/TH] ?[TH]Power:[/TH] 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries[TH]Lifetime:[/TH] 2 years[TH]Mass:[/TH] 272 kg[TH]Orbit:[/TH] 575 km × 575 km, 27°
ЦитатаOct. 18, 2017NASA's ICON Explores the Boundary Between Earth and SpaceOn Dec. 8, 2017, NASA launches the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, a low-Earth orbiting satellite that will give us new information about how Earth's atmosphere interacts with near-Earth space -- a give-and-take that plays a major role in the safety of our satellites and reliability of communications signals. Скрытый текст: Specifically, ICON investigates the connections between the neutral atmosphere -- which extends fr om here near the surface to far above us, at the edge of space -- and the electrically charged part of the atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The particles of the ionosphere carry electrical charge that can disrupt communications signals, cause satellites in low-Earth orbit to become electrically charged, and, in extreme cases, cause power outages on the ground. Positioned on the edge of space and intermingled with the neutral atmosphere, the ionosphere's response to conditions on Earth and in space is difficult to pin down."The conditions in our space environment -- space weather -- is something we need to be able to forecast," said Thomas Immel, principal investigator for the ICON mission fr om the University of California, Berkeley."It's difficult to predict conditions in the ionosphere tomorrow based on what we measure today."Earth's interface to space As one goes higher and higher above Earth's surface, the atmosphere gradually gets thinner. The effects of these changes can be felt just a few miles above sea level -- for instance, climbers on some of the world's tallest mountains must often use oxygen tanks to breathe. But even higher, about 60 miles above Earth's surface, the atmosphere becomes so thin that planes can't fly. This is where space begins.Even beyond this boundary of space, Earth's atmosphere continues to extend upward -- it just gets thinner and more tenuous the higher you go. This region is above Earth's ozone layer, so it's exposed to the full brunt of the Sun's radiation. The strong ultraviolet radiationbreaks down stable, neutral molecules, changing them fr om something resembling the air we breathe into more reactive forms of gas, like atomic oxygen. These reactive compounds in the neutral upper atmosphere produce a faint, global glow, called airglow. NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, launches in December 2017 and orbits above the upper atmosphere, through the bottom edge of near-Earth space. Fr om this vantage point, ICON observes both the upper atmosphere -- made of neutral particles -- and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere, which extends from about 50 to 360 miles above the surface of Earth. Processes in the ionosphere also create bright swaths of color in the sky, known as airglow. ICON will observe how interactions between terrestrial weather and the ionosphere create such shimmering airglow as well as other changes in the space environment.Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ICONBut the sunlight doesn't stop there. It keeps breaking these atmospheric molecules apart, knocking off electrons, which leaves a sea of charged electrons and ions. This population of electrically charged particles is the ionosphere, and it exists in the same space as the extremely thin neutral upper atmosphere.This makes our interface to spacea unique region, wh ere charged and neutral gases coexist. It is shaped both by weather patterns and winds from Earth below, and shifting electric and magnetic fields and space weather from above."ICON aims to understand how Earth's weather modifies space weather," said Doug Rowland, mission scientist for ICON at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "We're looking at how the weather that we live in -- rain, heat, snow, thunderstorms, hurricanes -- affects the space environment above us."Space weather is often triggered by changes on the Sun, which releases a constant outflow of magnetized material called the solar wind along with less frequent but more intense bursts of solar material, called coronal mass ejections. The magnetic fields embedded in this solar material can deform Earth's natural magnetic field, creating shifting electric and magnetic fields in near-Earth space. The electrically-charged gas of the ionosphere, called plasma, reacts uniquely to these changing electric and magnetic fields.Many low-Earth orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, fly through the ionosphere. It alsoacts as a conduit for many of our communications signals, such as radio waves and the signals that make GPS systems work. Unpredicted changes in the ionosphere, like ripples and bubbles of dense plasma, can have significant impacts on our technology and communication."Short-wave radio waves bounce off the ionosphere, and signals from GPS satellites have to pass through," said Immel. "The changes in density directly affect communications and navigation."Understanding the details of what influences the ionosphere and causes signal disruptions has historically been difficult, in part because of the range of factors that can change the ionosphere. For decades, scientists thought that the ionosphere responded only to the changing conditions in space. New data over the past few decades, however, has proved that assumption wrong, and revealed that there's still much to learn about the forces that shape the ionosphere.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b94PaWIeG9Q(youtube.com/watch?v=b94PaWIeG9Q, 2:00)NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, launches in December 2017 and orbits above the upper atmosphere, through the bottom edge of near-Earth space. From this vantage point, ICON observes both the upper atmosphere and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere, which extends from about 50 to 360 miles above the surface of Earth. Processes in the ionosphere also create bright swaths of color in the sky, known as airglow. ICON will observe how interactions between Earth's weather and the ionosphere create such shimmering airglow as well as other changes in the space environment.Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight CenterDownload this video in HD formats from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's Scientific Visualization Studio"What we discovered, using data from a NASA mission called IMAGE, was that this region of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere was actually responding to effects related to weather systems near Earth's surface," said Scott England, ICON project scientist based at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. IMAGE, short for Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, studied Earth's magnetosphere from 2000 to 2005. "This was really unexpected at the time, to see a connection. Wh ere the charged particles were, how many there were, how dense the gas was -- they were responding to weather patterns near the surface of the Earth."Pockets of high or low pressure are produced near Earth's surface by hurricanes, thunderstorms, or even phenomena as simple as a steady wind over a mountain range. These pressure differences can propagate into the very highest reaches of the upper atmosphere and influence the winds in this region. The exact role that these winds -- and by extension, terrestrial weather -- play in shaping the ionosphere is an outstanding question, and one that scientists hope ICON will answer."We think the winds will be directly related to the electric field measured at the spacecraft, but we don't know," said Immel. "No one's ever made this measurement, so no one knows what we're going to see."Eyes on the ionosphere ICON explores these connections between the neutral atmosphere and the electrically charged ionosphere with four instruments. Three of these four instruments rely on one of the upper atmosphere's more spectacular phenomena: airglow.Airglow is created by a similar process that creates the aurora: gas is excited and emits light. Though auroras are typically confined to extreme northern and southern latitudes, airglow happens constantly across the globe, and it is much fainter. But it's still bright enough for ICON's instruments to build up a picture of the density, composition and structure of the ionosphere.One of these airglow-measuring instruments is MIGHTI, short for Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging. Designed and built by the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., MIGHTI measures the Doppler shift of the glowing gases of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere."The Doppler shift is the same process you can hear when you hear a siren on an ambulance: It has a different pitch when the ambulance is coming towards versus moving away from you," said England. "The same thing is happening with the light from airglow."When gas producing airglow moves toward or away from ICON, pushed by winds, the wavelengths are stretched or compressed. Because scientists know what chemical species produce airglow in the upper atmosphere, they know very specifically what wavelength -- or color -- that light should be. The Doppler-shifted light has an ever-so-slightly different hue that MIGHTI can detect, and from there, scientists can deduce the speed and direction of the winds in this region.Bright swaths of red in the upper atmosphere, known as airglow, can be seen in this image taken from the International Space Station. NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, launches December 2017 to observe how interactions between terrestrial weather and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere create the colorful glow.Credits: NASAInstruments similar to MIGHTI have flown on space missions before, but with a key difference. Earlier space-based interferometers would use moving parts to change the distance between different reflectors and detectors in order to measure each wavelength of light. But MIGHTI uses a tool called a diffraction grating -- similar to a mirror with lines etched in it that reflect light in a certain way -- to separate the light it sees into its component wavelengths simultaneously. This means that MIGHTI can measure multiple wavelengths at once, making the instrument more sensitive."MIGHTI can measure changes in the wind speed of around 10 miles per hour," said England. "If you translate that into the actual change in the wavelength, that's a change of about 1 in 100 million."Another airglow instrument, the Far Ultraviolet instrument, uses an advanced de-blurring technique called time-delay integration to send back more information for scientists within the data bandwidth restrictions of the spacecraft."We have the bandwidth to send down one snapshot every 12 seconds, but the spacecraft moves about a hundred kilometers in that amount of time, and the structures we want to look at are only a few kilometers wide," said Rowland. "You would smear all these small-scale structures."What the Far Ultraviolet instrumentdoes instead, said Rowland, is take eight snapshots per second -- almost a hundred times as much data as ICON can send down -- and combine them, with each one shifted appropriately to account for warping and the geometry of the spacecraft. This processing, which all happens on ICON's onboard computer, creates a single image that can be sent back to Earth within the bandwidth allotted. This combines the advantages of a long exposure by compressing the data, while still maintaining the sharp focus that gives scientists a detailed look at the structures they're interested in. The wavelengths measured by FUV are produced by certain types of oxygen and nitrogen molecules on Earth's day side, as well as oxygen ions on Earth's night side.ICON's third airglow instrument, EUV -- short for Extreme Ultraviolet instrument -- measures shorter wavelengths of light than FUV. Airglow measured by EUV is produced by oxygen ions on Earth's day side, which make up the lion's share of Earth's daytime ionosphere. EUV's data will reveal details about the structure of the ionosphere during the day -- like how far it extends, and wh ere pockets of denser plasma form -- that can change the ionosphere'sinteraction with communications signals and satellites.While ICON's three airglow instruments measure the temperature, velocity and composition of gases miles away from the spacecraft, a pair of identical in situ instruments characterizes the charged gas around the spacecraft. The two Ion Velocity Meters, or IVMs, make very precise measurements of the angle at which ionized gas enters the instrument, helping scientists understand how this ionized gas around the spacecraft is moving.In the past, scientists may have had to combine instruments from different spacecraft -- sometimes even from different years -- to try and make connections between the lower atmosphere, neutral upper atmosphere and ionosphere. But one of ICON's main advances is the combination of data from its four instruments at the same place and time"The unique thing is the suite of instruments," said Ellen Taylor, ICON project systems engineer at UC Berkeley. "ICON has several instruments that have been flown before, but they're put together into a payload suite to make unique measurements."ICON's orbit is also designed to create a few points during each orbit wh ere the remote sensing instruments look straight down Earth's magnetic field. That means the spacecraft's in situ plasma measurements are sometimes directly magnetically connected to the remote measurements of airglow, even though they're hundreds of miles apart.NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, uses a combination of remote and in situ instruments to study Earth's neutral upper atmosphere and electrically charged ionosphere. At certain points in its orbit near Earth's equator, ICON's remote and in situ measurements are magnetically connected, even though they're hundreds of miles apart, giving scientists new insights into the connected between the lower atmosphere, neutral upper atmosphere and ionosphere.Credits: NASA Goddard/DubersteinICON's data will be complemented by the January 2019 launch of the GOLD instrument, short for Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk. Hosted on a commercial satellite in geostationary orbit, GOLD also will observe the ionosphere, but from a vantage point very different from ICON's: GOLD will see the big picture, while ICON flies through the ionosphere, collecting data from up close."To study hurricanes, we might use a weather satellite to track how they're moving across the ocean, but to get detailed information, we fly a plane through the storm," said England. The same relationship holds true for ICON and GOLD studying the ionosphere. "GOLD is like the weather satellite, and ICON is like the airplane."ICON launches on a Pegasus rocket from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Carried underneath the L-1011 airplane out over the ocean, the launch window opens at approximately 3 a.m. local time on Dec. 8. NASA TV will cover the launch.After launch, Taylor's team will be in the mission operations center at UC Berkeley 24/7 for nearly a week to commission the spacecraft. This is followed by another three weeks of instrument commissioning, during which each one of the instruments is prepared to take science data -- by powering up, opening sensor doors, ramping up voltage and cooling down detector plates. After instrument and payload commissioning, ICON should be fully online and sending back data by about a month after launch.ICON is an Explorer-class mission. NASA Goddard manages the Explorer Program for NASA's Heliophysics Division within the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory developed the ICON mission, EUV and FUV, the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., developed the MIGHTI instrument, the University of Texas in Dallas developed IVM, and the ICON spacecraft and Pegasus launch vehicle were built by Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia.Related:[/li]NASA's ICON websiteUC Berkeley's ICON website By Sarah FrazierNASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.Last Updated: Oct. 18, 2017Editor: Rob Garner
Цитата NASA Sun & SpaceПодлинная учетная запись @NASASun 13 мин. назадThe launch of #NASAICON has been delayed until 2018 from the previously planned date of Dec. 8, 2017. More:
ЦитатаMission Update Nov. 3, 2017 - NASA is postponing launch of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) until 2018. The mission was previously planned to launch Dec. 8, 2017, on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. NASA and Orbital ATK need additional time to assess a separation component of the rocket. More information on a revised launch date will be provided once it becomes available.
Цитата Orbital ATKПодлинная учетная запись @OrbitalATK 14 мин. назад1/2: We've received direction from NASA to delay the launch of #NASAICON. We are working with NASA to define a new launch date.13 мин. назад2/2: Orbital ATK is providing both the spacecraft and launch vehicle for the #NASAICON mission.
ЦитатаLaunch of NASA ionospheric probe delayed to examine rocket issueNovember 10, 2017 Stephen ClarkThe second and third stages of the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket are offloaded fr om a transport vehicle at Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the launch of NASA's ICON satellite. Credit: NASA/Rodney SpeedThe launch of a NASA satellite to study the behavior of plasma in Earth's ionosphere has been delayed to early next year, giving engineers time to resolve concerns with the separation system on its air-launched Pegasus XL booster.NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer was set for launch Dec. 8, but the mission is not expected to take off until at least early 2018 after managers ordered a delay, NASA announced Nov. 3. Скрытый текст: Known by the acronym ICON, the mission will ride an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL launcher into orbit after dropping from the belly of an L-1011 carrier jet over the Pacific Ocean near the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.NASA decided to suspend launch preparations last week to give engineers more time to to assess a separation component on the Pegasus XL rocket, the space agency said in an update posted on its website.The ICON spacecraft itself is healthy and ready for final pre-launch processing, according to Elsayed Talaat, chief scientists of NASA's heliophysics division. The satellite, also built by Orbital ATK, was placed in its shipping container at the contractor's Gilbert, Arizona, assembly facility last month to wait clearance to head to Vandenberg, he said.But Talaat said last month that ICON's shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for attachment with the Pegasus rocket was delayed "pending resolution of concerns about the launch vehicle bolt cutter assembly reliability."Talaat told a scientific advisory committee that ICON's launch could be postponed to resolve the issue, a decision NASA confirmed last week.The suspect component is used in systems to jettison the Pegasus XL's payload shroud during its climb into space and separate the ICON spacecraft once in orbit.File photo of the most recent Pegasus XL launch in December 2016 with NASA's CYGNSS hurricane research satellites. Credit: NASA/Lori LoseyThe three-stage, solid-fueled Pegasus XL rocket is partially assembled in Orbital ATK's preparation building at Vandenberg. Once ICON arrives, ground crews will attach the satellite to the forward end of the Pegasus rocket, then encapsulate it inside the vehicle's clamshell-like payload fairing, which protects the spacecraft during final pre-flight activities and the initial ascent into space.Technicians will then transfer the Pegasus to the ramp at Vandenberg's airfield to meet its L-1011 jumbo jet mothership. The carrier plane will ferry the Pegasus rocket across the Pacific Ocean to Kwajalein around a week before launch.Fitted with a delta wing and steering fins, variants of the Pegasus rocket have flown 43 times on spacecraft delivery missions into Earth orbit, accomplishing 29 consecutive successful satellite launches.Thomas Immel, ICON's principal investigator at the University of California, Berkeley, said engineers are scrutinizing a part in the rocket's separation systems, which are the same systems used Pegasus XL's last launch in December 2016, when the air-dropped booster successfully placed eight hurricane research satellites in orbit for NASA.NASA planned to launch the ICON mission in June, but engineers wanted more time to inspect Pegasus rocket motors after they were mishandled during shipment to Vandenberg, NASA and ICON officials said. That pushed the launch back to December, the next availability in the military-run range at Kwajalein.The ICON launch is currently the only mission with a firm assignment to a future Pegasus flight, but the winged booster is a candidate to launch a NASA X-ray astronomy satellite named IXPE in 2020. The space agency has not formally sel ected a launch provider for that mission.A technician at Orbital ATK's satellite factory in Gilbert, Arizona, works on the ICON spacecraft. Credit: NASA/UC-Berkeley-SSL/Orbital ATKDeveloped on a budget of approximately $200 million, ICON will observe an upper layer of Earth's atmosphere called the ionosphere, wh ere influences from terrestrial weather patterns meet the space environment. From a 357-mile-high (575-kilometer) orbit, scientific instruments on the 619-pound (281-kilogram) spacecraft will measure temperatures and winds high up in the atmosphere, and changes in the motion and density of ionized gas over time.Scientists believe the behavior of neutral and charged particles in the ionosphere, located around 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth's surface, changes with the seasons, solar activity and space weather, and from day to night.Research suggests radiation from the sun is not entirely responsible for variations in the ionosphere. ICON will investigate the drivers of changes in the ionosphere, including those fr om deeper in the atmosphere closer to Earth's surface.Changes in the ionosphere can distort radio communications and GPS navigation signals, and scientists say a better understanding of how plasma propagates through the ionosphere could help predict communications and navigation outages in the future.
ЦитатаICON and GOLD: Instrument Scanning Coverage NASA VideoОпубликовано: 21 дек. 2017 г.A basic view of the orbits for ICON (Ionospheric Connections Explorer) and GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk). These missions will conduct measurements of ionospheric composition, ionization, and winds to better understand the connection between space weather and its terrestrial impacts. Скрытый текст: In this visualization, we present GOLD (in geostationary orbit around Earth) and ICON (in low Earth orbit). The colors over Earth represent model data from the IRI (International Reference Ionosphere) model of the density of the singly-ionized oxygen atom at an altitude of 350 kilometers. Red represents high density. The ion density is enhanced above and below the geomagnetic equator (not perfectly aligned with the geographic equator) on the dayside due to the ionizing effects of solar ultraviolet radiation combined with the effects of high-altitude winds and the geomagnetic field.In the latter half of the visualization, the viewing fields of the various instruments are displayed. ICON has an EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) and FUV (Far Ultraviolet) cameras (violet colored frustrums directed from spacecraft) pointing perpendicular to the orbit direction for detecting ionospheric emissions. Two Doppler interferometer cameras (blue) are directed at 45 degrees from this camera to detect ionospheric wind velocities.GOLD has an imaging spectrometer (green) that periodically scans the disk of Earth with additional higher-resolution scans of the dayside limb.
ЦитатаJan. 4, 2018Two Heads Are Better than One: ICON & GOLD Teaming Up To Explore Earth's Interface to SpaceLike Earth, space has weather. Except instead of swirling winds and downpours of precipitation, space weather is defined by shifting electric and magnetic fields and rains of charged particles. At the very beginning of space, starting just 60 miles above Earth's surface, there's a layer of the atmosphere that shifts and changes in concert with both types of weather. Скрытый текст: Above the ozone layer, the ionosphere is a part of Earth's atmosphere where particles have been cooked into a sea of electrically-charged electrons and ions by the Sun's radiation. The ionosphere is comingled with the very highest -- and quite thin -- layers of Earth's neutral upper atmosphere, making this region an area that is constantly in flux undergoing the push-and-pull between Earth's conditions and those in space. Increasingly, these layers of near-Earth space are part of the human domain, as it's home not only to astronauts, but to radio signals used to guide airplanes and ships, and satellites that provide our communications and GPS systems. Understanding the fundamental processes that govern our upper atmosphere and ionosphere is crucial to improve situational awareness that helps protect astronauts, spacecraft and humans on the ground.Two new NASA missions are teaming up to explore this little-understood area that's close to home but historically hard to observe. The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, instrument launches aboard a commercial communications satellite in January 2018, and the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft launches later in 2018. Together, they will provide the most comprehensive observations of the ionosphere we've ever had. The ionosphere is a region of charged particles in near-Earth space that coexists with the neutral gases in the upper atmosphere, which are sometimes shaped by weather events in the lower atmosphere.Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/DubersteinThe 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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnQhr2Bdk88(Video1 2:25)From its geostationary orbit, GOLD will have a continual view of Earth and its outer atmosphere. This visualization shows the view of Earth from GOLD. Because GOLD remains situated above the same geographic longitude, ICON will pass through its field of view. The two will take complementary measurements from different vantage points, making it easier to identify what caused a given change in the ionosphere.Credits: NASA's Scientific Visualization StudioDownload this video in HD formats from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio The missions could be likened to photography we're familiar with on Earth. GOLD specializes in landscapes from its view 22,000 miles above the planet's surface and ICON -- at 350 miles above Earth -- captures detailed close-ups. During parts of its orbit, ICON passes through GOLD's field of view and each mission will get a unique snapshot of the same region. This overlap in their data makes it easier to identify what caused a certain change to the upper atmosphere at a given time.One shared goal for the missions is to systematically measure weather-related shifts in the upper atmosphere. For the first time, we'll be able to see how the upper atmosphere changes in response to hurricanes and geomagnetic storms alike."We used to think only solar wind could affect the ionosphere, and only the lower atmosphere was affected by terrestrial weather," said Doug Rowland, ICON mission scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The solar wind is the Sun's constant outflow of charged particles and magnetized material. "But now we're going to get to see how that energy couples together."Several types of terrestrial weather events are of particular interest. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, for example, have developed a theoretical model of El Niño's repercussions on the ionosphere. Their model suggests El Niño-driven warming of the Pacific Ocean causes an increase in water vapor, which in turn increases the amount of solar energy the atmosphere absorbs. That added heat causes wind patterns to fluctuate and alter conditions in the ionosphere. Tropical cyclones are also suspected to have effects on the ionosphere. Data from ICON and GOLD are expected to answer these questions and further reveal unanticipated mechanisms at work."There are huge scientific modeling efforts associated with both of these missions," said Sarah Jones, GOLD mission scientist at NASA Goddard. "We already have models that are filled with really good science, but these new measurements will lead to a better understanding of the physics in the models."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_MJDL2m_8w(Video2 0:39)Bright swaths of red and green, known as airglow, are visible in this time-lapse view of Earth's limb captured from the International Space Station. Airglow occurs when gases in the upper atmosphere become charged by the Sun's radiation, emitting light. By measuring the light from airglow, ICON and GOLD will learn a lot about the neutral and charged particles in the upper atmosphere.Credits: NASAIn addition to working together to determine how different types of energy flow through the upper atmosphere, the two missions also have their own research objectives. GOLD's science focuses on observing what drives change -- the Sun, Earth's magnetic field and the lower atmosphere -- in the upper atmosphere. GOLD is particularly interested in how the upper atmosphere reacts to geomagnetic storms, which are temporary disturbances of Earth's magnetic field set off by solar activity. During nighttime, GOLD examines disruptions in the ionosphere -- dense, unpredictable bubbles of charged gas that appear over the equator and tropics, sometimes interfering with radio communications.On the other hand, ICON concentrates on how charged and neutral gases in the upper atmosphere behave and interact. Several forces -- including shifts in neutral winds, pressure gradients and solar activity -- act on the ionosphere simultaneously; ICON was designed to study each of them individually, making it easier for scientists to elucidate cause-and-effect relationships.ICON and GOLD join a small fleet of spacecraft that study a vast interconnected system from the space surrounding Earth and other planets to the farthest limits of the Sun's constantly flowing streams of solar wind. A third mission in the fleet -- the 16-year-old Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, will specifically complement the new efforts to study the upper atmosphere. TIMED, which launched in 2001, doesn't carry all the instruments necessary to analyze the motion of the particles in the upper atmosphere that ICON and GOLD bring to the effort, but it still can provide key measurements from a third vantage point to help scientists fill in pieces of the puzzle. Together they will provide key information about how Earth's upper atmosphere connects to the dynamic and complex system of space that fills our solar system.The last time Earth's disk was seen in far-ultraviolet light was in 1972, during the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission. Astronaut John W. Young used a UV camera to take this photo of Earth from the moon. GOLD will have a continuous view of Earth's atmosphere in far-ultraviolet light, allowing scientists to see changes to the ionosphere and thermosphere that are otherwise invisible.Credits: NASAICON and GOLD are Explorer-class missions. NASA Goddard manages the Explorer Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory developed the ICON mission and the two ultraviolet imaging spectrographs onboard; the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., developed the MIGHTI instrument; the University of Texas in Dallas developed the Ion Velocity Meter; and the ICON spacecraft was built by Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia.GOLD is led by the University of Central Florida, and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder built the instrument. GOLD is a NASA mission of opportunity -- an instrument hosted on an otherwise unrelated satellite. GOLD flies in geostationary orbit on a commercial communications satellite, SES-14, built by Airbus for Luxembourg-based satellite operator, SES. GOLD is the first NASA science mission to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite. NASA Goddard manages the TIMED mission for the Heliophysics Division within the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, built the spacecraft for NASA.Related [/li]Revolutions in Understanding the Ionosphere, Earth's Interface to SpaceNASA's ICON Explores the Boundary Between Earth and SpaceEarth's IonosphereBy Micheala SosbyNASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Last Updated: Jan. 4, 2018Editor: Rob Garner
ЦитатаICON Spacecraft Arrives at VandenbergBob GranathPosted May 2, 2018 at 2:49 pmOn May 1, 2018, NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the next stage of its journey to launch, scheduled for June 14 fr om Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.The observatory made the trip overnight fr om Gilbert, Arizona, wh ere it was in an Orbital ATK facility. At Vandenberg, ICON will be integrated onto a Pegasus XL rocket, which will in turn be flown to Kwajalein on an L-1011 aircraft, which will double as its launcher. Скрытый текст: The Ionospheric Connection Explorer will study the frontier of space: the dynamic zone high in our atmosphere wh ere terrestrial weather from below meets space weather from above. This region of space and its changes have practical repercussions -- this is the area through which radio communications and GPS signals travel. Variations there can result in distortions or even complete disruption of signals. In order to understand this complicated region of near-Earth space, called the ionosphere, NASA has developed the ICON mission. ICON will help determine the physical process at play in our space environment and pave the way for mitigating their effects on our technology, communications systems and society.NASA Goddard manages the Explorer Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory developed the ICON mission and the two ultraviolet imaging spectrographs onboard (the largest of which was integrated and tested at the Centre Spatial de Liège; the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., developed the MIGHTI instrument; the University of Texas in Dallas developed the Ion Velocity Meter; and the ICON spacecraft was built by Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia. NASA's Launch Services Program is responsible for launch management.Photo credit: NASA
ЦитатаOrbital ATKПодлинная учетная запись @OrbitalATK 19 ч.19 часов назадThe Orbital ATK-designed and built ICON spacecraft has arrived in Vandenberg ahead of its June 14 launch. ICON will launch from Kwajalein Atoll aboard one of our #Pegasus rockets!
ЦитатаNASA: Assessments of Major ProjectsGovernment Accountability OfficeMay 1, 2018
ЦитатаOrbital ATKПодлинная учетная запись @OrbitalATK 5 ч. назадThe #Stargazer L-1011 has landed in VAFB @30thSpaceWing to prepare for the upcoming launch of #Pegasus, carrying the Orbital ATK-built ICON satellite for @NASA , scheduled to launch on June 14. #NASAICON
ЦитатаICON Satellite Arrives at VandenbergBob GranathPosted May 29, 2018 at 12:54 pmA solar array illumination test is performed on NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite in the Building 1555 clean room Friday, May 4, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The test checks for any imperfections and confirms that the solar arrays are functioning properly.ICON arrived on May 1, 2018, and preflight processing began after it was offloaded and transported to its current location. The explorer will launch June 15, 2018, fr om Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (June 14 in the continental United States). The satellite will be carried aloft on Orbital ATK's Pegasus XL rocket, attached to the company's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft.ICON will study the frontier of space -- the dynamic zone high in Earth's atmosphere wh ere terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above. The explorer will help determine the physics of Earth's space environment and pave the way for mitigating its effects on technology, communications systems and society.Photo credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Daniel Quinajon
ЦитатаOrbital ATKПодлинная учетная запись @OrbitalATK 9 ч. назадOur teams continue to prepare for launch of @NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite, scheduled to launch aboard our #Pegasus rocket 6/14. Designed & integrated at our Gilbert, AZ facility, ICON will study effects of the ionosphere on communications transmission Скрытый текст:
ЦитатаMay 29, 2018MEDIA ADVISORY M18-087NASA Previews Mission to Study Frontier of SpaceProcesses in Earth's ionosphere create bright swaths of color in the sky, known as airglow, as seen here in an image taken from the International Space Station. NASA's Ionospheric Connection (ICON) mission will track airglow to observe how interactions between Earth's weather and the ionosphere create changes in our space environment.Credits: NASANASA will host a media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT Monday, June 4, on the agency's mission to explore Earth's ionosphere and the processes there that impact life on Earth's surface. The event will air live on NASA Television, the agency's website and Facebook Live. Скрытый текст: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will study the layer of charged particles extending from about 50 to 360 miles above Earth's surface, through which radio communications and GPS signals travel, and the processes there that can distort or even disrupt these signals. Knowledge gleaned from this mission will aid in mitigating its effects on satellites and communications technology worldwide.The event will be held at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Participants will include:[/li]Willis Jenkins, ICON program executive at NASA Headquarters, WashingtonThomas Immel, mission principal investigator at the University of California Berkeley's Space Sciences LaboratoryRebecca Bishop, ionospheric research scientist at Aerospace CorporationDouglas Rowland, mission scientist at Goddard...ICON will launch June 14 Eastern time on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and deploy from Orbital's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft.Last Updated: May 31, 2018Editor: Karen Northon
ЦитатаOrbital ATKПодлинная учетная запись @OrbitalATK 2 ч. назадOperations are rolling in VAFB as our crew moved and mated the #Pegasus rocket to the #Stargazer #L1011 airplane in preps for a June 14 Launch of #NASAICON. Stay tuned to @NASA_LSP for live launch coverage!
ЦитатаNASA_EDGE @NASA_EDGE 47 мин. назадWe go live at 12:30 pm EDT for the Countdown to the ICON Ferry Flight show live from Vandenberg AFB. Check it out on NASA TV and on Facebook Live. http://www.facebook.com/nasaedgefan #NASAICON #nasa #orbitalatk #Stargazer #Pegasus #L1011 #NASALSP