MNA Science & Tech Desk: NASA has announced that it would launch two missions to explore a little-understood area 96 kilometres above Earth’s surface.
The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will be launched aboard a commercial communications satellite in January 2018, and the designed spacecraft Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will be launched later this year, the US space agency said.
GOLD and ICON will team up to explore the ionosphere, a boundary area between Earth and the space where particles have been cooked into a sea of electrically-charged electrons and ions by the Sun’s radiation, reports Xinhua news agency.
These layers of near-Earth space are increasingly becoming a part of human domain as it is home to radio signals used to guide airplanes, ships and Global Positioning System satellites.
NASA said the two missions were complementary. ICON in low-Earth orbit, at 560 km above Earth, flies through and just above the ionosphere, like a close-up camera.