Exploring the Ionosphere: The View from GOLD

  • Released Thursday, October 27th, 2016
  • Updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 at 12:08AM
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A view of Earth from the point-of-view of the GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk) instrument in geostationary orbit. This mission will conduct measurements of ionospheric composition to better understand the connection between space weather and its terrestrial impacts.

ICON (Ionospheric Connections Explorer) orbits much closer to Earth. 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. This ion density decreases at night as the ions recombine with free electrons. At the limb of Earth, we present a cross-sectional profile of the density enhancement.

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