• Released Wednesday, January 17th, 2018
  • Updated Wednesday, January 24th, 2018 at 12:00AM


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.

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About the Mission

The Ionosphere