Newly-Launched ICON Observatory Sees the December 2019 Eclipse

What happens when airglow is temporarily “turned off”?

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Just over six weeks after launch and early calibrations, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission was presented with a unique opportunity. ICON flew very close to the December 26 solar eclipse track that extended across Asia, and observed the major changes in upper atmospheric airglow that naturally occurred. ICON’s four instruments, primed to look at the ionosphere, the dynamic region where Earth meets space, were in position to observe the effects. What happens when airglow –the natural glow of Earth’s atmosphere caused by solar radiation – is temporarily “turned off” when the sun is blocked by the moon’s shadow for a few minutes? Preliminary data shows that all four instruments – MIGHTI, EUV, FUV and IVM – were able to see changes the eclipse wrought.

ICON Co-Investigator Siegmund Wins the 2020 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation

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The 2020 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation, awarded for the design, invention, or significant improvement of instrumentation leading to advances in astronomy, goes to Oswald “Ossy” Siegmund (University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory) for his significant and innovative contributions to the technology of photon counting detectors and the impact these instruments have had on advancing our understanding of the universe. His role in developing and continually improving microchannel plate (MCP) detectors has been transformative to a broad range of astrophysical studies. Sensors incorporating MCPs are used in particle detectors and in astronomical instruments spanning X-ray, ultraviolet, and visible wavelengths. Over several decades detector technology directly enabled by Siegmund has been incorporated into numerous NASA, European Space Agency, and Department of Energy projects and has led to fundamental astrophysical discoveries."
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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