Space

April 15, 2013

NASA selects Explorer projects to probe Earth’s upper atmosphere

NASA has selected a new satellite mission and a new space-based instrument to begin development as part of the agency’s Heliophysics Explorer Program.

The projects will provide space observations to study Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere.

The Ionospheric Connection (ICON) mission, led by Thomas Immel of the University of California, Berkeley, will probe the extreme variability of Earth’s ionosphere with in-situ and remote-sensing instruments. Fluctuations in the ionosphere interfere with signals from communications and global positioning satellites, which can have an economic impact on the nation.

The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission of opportunity, led by Richard Eastes of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, is an imaging instrument that will fly on a commercial communications satellite in geostationary orbit to image the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere.

“One of the frontier areas of heliophysics is the study of the interface between outer space and the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “These selected projects use innovative solutions to advance our knowledge of this relatively unexplored region. The two missions together will result in significantly more advances in our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere than either would alone.”

These two Explorer projects were selected from proposals submitted in response to the NASA Explorer announcement of opportunity in 2010. The proposals were judged to offer the best science value and feasible development plans among the six concept studies submitted to NASA in September 2012.

Costs for NASA Explorer missions, such as ICON, are capped at $200 million each (fiscal year 2011 dollars), excluding the launch vehicle. Explorer missions of opportunity, such as GOLD, are capped at $55 million each. The new missions are expected to launch in 2017.

The Explorer program is the agency’s oldest continuous program. It is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space for principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the heliophysics and astrophysics programs in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The Explorer program has launched more than 90 missions since 1958, including Explorer 1 which discovered the Earth’s radiation belts and the Nobel Prize-enabling mission Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission. The program is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for the Science Mission Directorate.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Boeing concludes commercial crew space act agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket. NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’...
 
 

NASA partners with leading technology innovators to enable future exploration

Recognizing that technology drives exploration, NASA has selected four teams of agency technologists for participation in the Early Career Initiative pilot program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate c...
 
 

New commercial rocket descent data may help NASA with future Mars landings

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars. “Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars...
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI

NASA’s Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI The mammoth galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is so massive that its powerful gravity bends the light from galaxies far behind it, making these otherwise unseen background objects appear larger a...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA TV to air Russian spacewalk from International Space Station

NASA photograph Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency will don Orlan spacesuits and step outside the International Space Station Oct. 22, to perform wor...
 
 
Ball Aerospace photograph

Ball Aerospace green propellant infusion mission to host three DOD space experiments

Ball Aerospace photograph The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads when it launches in 2016. The NASA and Ball ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>