Exploring Where Earth's Weather Meets Space Weather

The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will be the newest addition to NASA’s fleet of Heliophysics satellites. Led by UC Berkeley, scientists and engineers around the world are coming together to make ICON a reality.

The goal of the ICON mission is to understand the tug-of-war between Earth’s atmosphere and the space environment. In the "no mans land" of the ionosphere, a continuous struggle between solar forcing and Earth’s weather systems drive extreme and unpredicted variability. ICON will investigate the forces at play in the near-space environment, leading the way in understanding disturbances that can lead to severe interference with communications and GPS signals.
 

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ICON Assembly and Testing

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It’s about a year until ICON launches, and all teamsscience, instruments, mission operations and modeling teamsare moving forward with laser focus. There is little time to rest when so much goes into making a NASA satellite ready for launch in June 2017.  Systems need to be tested to ensure they can download and process the data that ICON will be generating nearly continuously, orbit after orbit, in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Current data processing testing is making use of the data that the flight instruments are already producing as they undergo ground testing—it's a great way to see how everything's flowing through the data pipeline.  In fact, the mission and instrument operations teams worked together recently to perform a “day in the life” test with the instruments, where they ran them through a 24 hour long sequence of commands, to simulate what they will do over a full day's worth of orbits.

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ICON skin is based on Greytness by Adammer
Background image, courtesy of NASA, is a derivitave of photograph taken by D. Pettit from the ISS, used under Creative Commons licence