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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  "Where is ICON" visualization tool.
 

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What Does the MIGHTI Instrument Do?

What is an interferometer? What will MIGHTI be investigating in Earth's upper atmosphere?

Karin Hauck 0 38

ICON carries four different instruments to explore Earth's upper atmosphere. The MIGHTI instrument, an example of an interferometer, looks at winds and temperatures in the ionosphere. In this video,  Drs. John Harlander and Chris Englert explain what an interferometer is and what MIGHTI will be investigating.

"The atmosphere naturally just glows at those altitudes, more during the day and less during the night...and by just looking at the color of this airglow, we can find out about the wind and the temperature. So the atmosphere... is helping us to understand how it is behaving by sending out this airglow. If we build the right instruments to look at particular aspects of the color of the airglow, we can get information that we want."
—  Dr. Chris Englert, MIGHTI instrument lead

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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 license