BOULDER – NASA announced the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics will collaborate on a $55 million project to build and launch an instrument to provide unprecedented imaging of the Earth’s upper atmosphere from a geostationary orbit.
Information collected by the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will have a direct impact on understanding space weather and its impact on communication and navigation satellites.
The GOLD project is part of NASA’s Explorer Program, designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space for heliophysics and astrophysics missions with small to mid-size spacecraft.
The mission is a collaboration between LASP, the University of Central Florida and SES Government Solutions, a commercial satellite company.
In addition to providing the compact instrument – roughly the size of a microwave oven – LASP will also provide project management, systems engineering, safety and mission assurance, instrument operations and education and public outreach for the project.
“An important aspect of the mission is that GOLD will be one of the first NASA science missions to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite,” said Mark Lankton, LASP senior professional research assistant and GOLD project manager.
One of the goals of the mission is to determine how geomagnetic storms alter the temperature and composition of Earth’s atmosphere.
“GOLD’s imaging represents a new paradigm for observing the boundary between Earth and space,” said Bill McClintock, LASP senior research scientist and GOLD deputy principal investigator.
“It will revolutionize our understanding of how the sun and space environment affect our upper atmosphere.”
For more information, visit www.lasp.colorado.edu.