Tuesday, November 12, 2019

ICON Satellite to Study Ionosphere

Stargazer L-1011 jet carrying a Pegasus rocket takes off
from Cape Canaveral. The rocket was dropped from the
plane and then launched the ICON satellite into orbit.
(NASA photo by Frank Michaux)
The newest satellite designed to study the ionosphere was successfully launched October 10 by a Pegasus rocket dropped from a Stargazer L-1011 air- craft. Sky and Telescope magazine reports that the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite will study the interaction between the ionos- phere and the thermosphere, as well as measuring airglow, a phenomenon caused by charged particles floating in the upper atmosphere. 
Phil Erickson, W1PJE, an astronomer at MIT's Haystack Observatory who is not connected with the mission, wrote on the HamSCI reflector that ICON's observations will need to be combined with ground-based ones to paint a complete picture of space-atmosphere interactions. He said he expected the satellite's first science data to be transmitted in early December, following a period of commissioning.