CINDI involves two instruments on the C/NOFS satellite that measure the concentration and kinetic energy of the ions and neutral particles in space as the satellite passes through them. This information will be used in building models to understand the various structures in the ionosphere, such as plasma depletions and associated turbulence in the nightside, low-latitude ionosphere. These structures can interfere with radio signals between Earth and spacecraft in orbit, thus causing errors in tracking and loss of communication.
VEFI measures direct current (DC) electric fields, which cause the bulk plasma motion that drives the ionospheric plasma to be unstable. Additionally, it measures the quasi-DC electric fields within the plasma density depletions to reveal the motions of the depletions relative to the background ionosphere. VEFI also measures the vector AC electric field, which characterizes the ionospheric disturbances associated with spread-F irregularities.
The Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) is a multi-agency partnership to enable, support, and perform the research and development for next-generation space science and space weather computer models. The CCMC partners include NASA; the National Science Foundation; the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center; the Office of Naval Research; and the Air Force Materiel Command, Office of Scientific Research, Research Laboratory, and Weather Agency.
The Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer (FAST) mission has helped scientists answer fundamental questions about the causes and makeup of the aurora. FAST's primary objective was to study the microphysics of space plasma and the accelerated particles that cause the aurora. FAST's highly elliptical orbit enabled the spacecraft to cross over the auroral zones at Earth's poles four times each orbit. The spacecraft collected high-resolution data ("snapshots") only while in those auroral zones. It also ventured high into the charged particle environment of the aurora to measure the electric and magnetic fields, plasma waves, energetic electrons and ions, ion mass composition, and thermal plasma density and temperature. The FAST mission was launched in 1996.
Firefly will determine the source of Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), and will determine the extent to which TGFs are associated with energetic electrons that can escape the atmosphere to populate the inner radiation belt.
For over 40 years the Sounding Rocket Program has provided critical scientific, technical, and educational contributions to the nation's space program and is one of the most robust, versatile, and cost-effective flight programs at NASA.
The Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission is studying the influences of the sun and humans on the least explored and understood region of Earth's atmosphere: the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere/ Ionosphere (MLTI). The MLTI region is where the sun's energy enters Earth's environment for the first time. The TIMED spacecraft focuses on a portion of the MLTI region located at an altitude of approximately 40-110 miles (60-180 kilometers).
The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission will help scientists answer questions about changes in the aurora, also known as the Northern or Southern Lights. Specifically, THEMIS investigates the nature of the events, called auroral substorms, that abruptly and explosively release solar wind energy stored within Earth's magnetotail. The THEMIS mission employs five identical spacecraft in carefully chosen orbits whose apogees line up once every 4 days over a dedicated array of ground observatories located in Canada and the northern United States.
The TRICE mission's scientific goals were aimed at distinguishing between signatures of pulsed reconnection versus those of steady reconnection, as well as investigating ionospheric cusp electrodynamics.
Launched in August 2012, the Van Allen Probes (formerly Radiation Belt Storm Probes, and part of NASA's Living With a Star program), will provide unprecedented insight into the physical dynamics of the radiation belts and give scientists the data they need to make predictions of changes in this critical region of space.