To get a better understanding of the magnetic stroms the encircle our planet and jeopardize the life of the satellites and also lead to disturbance in the radio communications on ground, NASA has finally launched a new mission ICON. 

NASA’s ICON also known as Ionospheric Connection Explorer is a Explorer class mission worth $180 million that will be commanded by NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center located in Maryland.

The Explorer is manufactured by the Space Sciences Laboratory of UC Berkeley and it is planned to be launched on June 14th by the aid of an airplane L-1011 “Stargazer” above the Pacific ocean. The scientists expect that ICON will start analysing the ionosphere by August.  

The main task assigned to the Explorer is to estimate the ionized winds that prevail at the edge of the Earth and deduce the effect of atmospheric weather on the ionized atoms winds in the seasonal tropical monsoons.

According to Thomas Immel, the ICON is designed in a way to monitor everything that comes past the boundary of space. He is the lead of the ICON mission and a physicist at the Space Sciences Lab.

The ICON satellite of NASA will rotate around the Earth’s surface at an altitude of 350 miles but will mainly monitor the area above 60 miles, where the feeble upper atmosphere of the Earth transitions into space and the temperature is at 200 Kelvin making it the most frigid region on Earth. Although the Sun continuously warms this area and as a result of the UV radiations of the Sun, the electrons are knocked off from the Oxygen atoms and leading to the creation of ionized gas or plasma.

NASA’s ICON will tudy the interactions of airglow hovers in an almost Earth like atmosphere. Air glow hovers is the name given to the bright swaths of colors that are present near the Equatorial surface at about 50 to 300 miles over the Earth. These air glow hovers are a result of intense interactions between the magnetic field lines of the Earth. 

There are two MIGHT1 telescopes fitted in the NASA’s Explorer and their main goal will be to calculate the velocity of the plasma waves by means of their Doppler shift effect between 60 to 200 miles over the Earth’s surface. The full form of MIGHT1 telescope is Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging.