CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA launched a satellite on Thursday night to explore the mysterious, dynamic region where space meets space. Year delay. It was dropped by a plane that flew off the coast of Florida across the Atlantic.
Five seconds after the satellite was released, the mounted Pegasus rocket fired and sent Icon off.
The ionosphere is the charged part of the upper atmosphere expansion of several hundred miles. It is in constant flux, while space weather bombards it from above and the earth's weather from below, sometimes interrupting radio communication.
"This sheltered layer is the tip of our atmosphere, it's our limit to space," said NASA's head of the Department of Heliophysics, Nicola Fox.
Fox said there was too much going on in the region Hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather conditions on Earth also bring energy.
The more scientists know, the better spacecraft and astronauts can be protected by improved forecasting in orbit.
The refrigerator-sized icon Satellite will study the airborne glow from gases in the ionosphere and also measure the charged environment around the 580-kilometer spaceship.
"It's a remarkable physical laboratory," said principal scientist Thomas Immel of the University of California, Berkeley, who oversees the two-year mission, adding, "Icon goes where the action is." [1
Icon should have skyrocketed in 2017, but problems with the Pegasus missile fired by Northrop Grumman from the air disrupted. Despite the long delay, NASA announced that the $ 252 million mission had not exceeded its price cap. Northrop Grumman also built the satellite.
During a press conference earlier this week, NASA star director Omar Baez apologized for the delay. "We have no second chances on this kind of missions."
He called the launch "a great and great one, which took a long time."
Baez said in the end that everything went well. "That's about as good as it gets," he said. 19659014]