SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Watch View Alerts

NASA's newest mission, ICON, could launch this week

NASA's ICON mission to explore where Earth's weather meets space weather was expected to launch early Wednes...

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 2:40 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 2:40 PM

NASA's ICON mission to explore where Earth's weather meets space weather was expected to launch early Wednesday, but did not go up. The next launch opportunity will be Thursday, the space agency said, but there is no official launch date selected yet.

Initially the launch was scheduled for October, but NASA wanted to conduct more pre-launch testing on the rocket.

Aviation and aerospace industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Celestial bodies and objects

Earth

Planets and moons

Space and astronomy

Space exploration

Space industry

Spacecraft and satellites

Government organizations - US

NASA

US federal departments and agencies

US government independent agencies

Weather

"After years of work, I'm excited to get into orbit and turn on the spacecraft, open the doors on all our instruments," said Thomas Immel, ICON principal investigator at the University of California, Berkeley. "ICON carries incredible capacity for science. I'm looking forward to surprising results and finally seeing the world through its eyes."

ICON, or the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, will capture a closer view from within the upper atmosphere itself, 350 miles above Earth. ICON can also directly measure particles and how they move. It will operate amid bright bands of color known as airglow.

Airglow, which creates bands of red and green or purple and yellow light, happens when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere shed excess energy because they receive so much from the sun in this region.

Unlike auroras, airglow is constant because of daily radiation, forming a light bubble around the Earth.

But it can't be seen unless you're orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station or using a sensitive camera from the ground on a clear night.

"Each atmospheric gas has its own favored airglow color depending on the gas, altitude region and excitation process, so you can use airglow to study different layers of the atmosphere," Doug Rowland, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. "We're not studying airglow per se, but using it as a diagnostic."

"It's amazing that our atmosphere glows like this, but what's more -- it gives us a direct ability to make observations of the key parameters we need in order to investigate the connection between the neutral atmosphere and the ionosphere," Immel said. "I can't wait to see what airglow looks like from ICON's point of view."

The ionosphere, where Earth meets space, is a dynamic environment full of electrically charged particles and it's always changing. It's also been difficult to study because it's too high for science balloons and too low for satellites to allow for more observation.

But there are indicators that space weather and weather on Earth are linked, and they create a power struggle as they meet in the ionosphere. ICON will be able to observe this up close.

"We've had the smoking gun -- that indicated terrestrial and space weather are linked -- but we've been missing actual observations in the region where these changes are taking place," said Scott England, ICON project scientist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. "ICON has all the tools to see the drivers and their effects in the system."

This will work in concert with another NASA mission that launched this year, the GOLD mission, or Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, which explores the zone between Earth's atmosphere and the lowest reaches of space, where key communications satellites orbit.

GOLD is examining the response of the upper atmosphere to force from the sun, the magnetosphere and the lower atmosphere. Learning more about the ionosphere -- part of Earth's upper atmosphere where the sun's radiation collides with gas that breaks into electrons and ions -- is key. This dynamic environment is always changing and could easily garble radio signals coming through our atmosphere.

This combined global and fine-scale view from ICON and GOLD will provide scientists with unique perspectives and a more complete picture of "our interface to space," the agency said.

"It's a truly wonderful time to be studying heliophysics," said Nicola Fox, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington. "We just launched Parker Solar Probe earlier this year, which will give us the first close-up view of what drives the solar wind. Now, with ICON joining our heliophysics system fleet, we will have the incredibly detailed measurements of the ionosphere's response to the solar drivers. This is an amazing opportunity to study the whole system response."

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 91°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 84°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
90° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 98°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 91°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 87°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 88°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 88°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 85°
Severe weather risk, then brief, but substantial cool-down...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events