The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission is designed to explore the nearest reaches of space. Capturing never-before-seen images of Earth’s upper atmosphere, GOLD explores in unprecedented detail our space environment — which is home to astronauts, radio signals used to guide airplanes and ships, as well as satellites that provide communications and GPS systems. The more we know about the fundamental physics of this region of space, the more we can protect our assets there.
Gathering observations from geostationary orbit above the Western Hemisphere, GOLD measures the temperature and composition of neutral gases in Earth’s thermosphere. This part of the atmosphere co-mingles with the ionosphere, which is made up of charged particles. Both the Sun from above and terrestrial weather from below can change the types, numbers, and characteristics of the particles found here — and GOLD helps track those changes.
Activity in this region is responsible for a variety of key space weather events. GOLD scientists are particularly interested in the cause of dense, unpredictable bubbles of charged gas that appear over the equator and tropics, sometimes causing communication problems. As we discover the very nature of the Sun-Earth interaction in this region, the mission could ultimately lead to ways to improve forecasts of such space weather and mitigate its effects.
Bright swaths of red and green, known as airglow, are visible in this time-lapse view of Earth's limb captured from the International Space Station. Airglow occurs when gases in the upper atmosphere become charged by the Sun's radiation, emitting light. By measuring the light from airglow, ICON and GOLD will learn a lot about the neutral and charged particles in the upper atmosphere.
Slug: NASA GOLD Mission to Image Earth’s Interface to Space
On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission launches to explore Earth’s boundary to space. Capturing never-before-seen images of Earth’s upper atmosphere, GOLD will help us understand the region that is home to astronauts, radio signals used to guide airplanes and ships, as well as satellites that provide communications and GPS systems.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 126.96.36.199.0