Exploring Where Earth's Weather Meets Space Weather

The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), the newest addition to NASA’s fleet of Heliophysics satellites, launched on October 10, 2019 at 9:59 p.m. EDT. Led by UC Berkeley, scientists and engineers around the world came 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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Pegasus ICON Live Launch Coverage 10/10/2019

Live coverage of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) launch.

NASA provided comprehensive coverage of launch day preparations and mission specifications for the ICON mission. Coverage occurred from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launched occurred at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10, 2019. ICON was launched on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket dropped from the company’s Stargazer L-1011.

This is a short version of the video.
Full length version can be seen here: https://youtu.be/5u_N0rOJjlM

Pegasus ICON Prelaunch Mission Briefing 10/08/2019

Mission Briefing from NASA's KSC in Florida. Participants included:

  • Nicola Fox, Heliophysics division director in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Thomas Immel, ICON principal investigator at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the UC Berkeley
  • Omar Baez, launch director in NASA’s Launch Services Program
  • Phil Joyce, vice president of space launch programs at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems
  • Steve Krein, vice president of civil and commercial satellites at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems
  • Representative from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing

Latest News

ICON’s mission to the ionosphere begins with beautiful fall launch

Karin Hauck 0 55

[Robert Sanders, Berkeley News, October 10, 2019] At 9:59 p.m. EDT this evening, Thursday, Oct. 10, NASA launched the Ionospheric Connection, or ICON, mission, putting into orbit a satellite built largely at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory to explore the dynamic region where Earth meets space, the ionosphere.

The mission is the first dedicated to studying how terrestrial weather can help drive space weather above, in the region where our upper atmosphere overlaps with the lowest reaches of space – a dynamic region where changes can disrupt radio, cell phone, and GPS communications used to guide airplanes and ships.

While all went smoothly at the launch site over the Atlantic, mission control at the Space Sciences Laboratory had to contend with a power outage instituted by the local utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to prevent predicted high winds from sparking fires in the surrounding Berkeley hills. The campus’s cogeneration plant supplied the needed power to track the satellite during its initial passes over California.

“It was like watching a choreographed performance turn into a jazz improvisation as problems come up and the individual team members solved them in real time feeding off one another’s talent and energy,” said astronomer Steve Beckwith, director of the lab.

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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