Global Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD)

Global Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD)

  • NASA’s Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument was launched to the Ionosphere recently on an Ariane 5 rocket.
  • Global Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk abbreviated as GOLD is an imaging spectrograph.
  • Spectrographs are scientific instruments that have been designed to break the light down into its constituent wavelengths and to measure their intensity.
  • By examining the data from such an instrument, scientists can determine a wide variety of characteristics, including a target’s composition and temperature.
  • GOLD will be tasked with collecting far ultraviolet light data on the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The mission will focus its attention on a relatively poorly understood region of the upper atmosphere where the charged particles of the ionosphere mingle with the diffuse neutral gasses that make up the thermosphere.
  • It aims at shedding light on how the uppermost layers of the Earth’s atmosphere can be affected by powerful space and Earth-based weather events.
  • Earth’s atmosphere is a complex, multi-layered protective shell that envelopes our planet, and safeguards its inhabitants from dangerous space weather emanating from the Sun.
  • This tenuous region of the atmosphere has been known to undergo rapid and remarkable changes in less than an hour.
  • These fluctuations can be driven by the constant interactions between the ionosphere and the thermosphere, in conjunction with the weather emanating from both the Earth and space.
  • The complexity of these interactions makes it very difficult to predict when an atmospheric change in the ionosphere and thermosphere will occur, and this can be a serious problem for the satellites to communicate.
  • Disruptions in the ionosphere can block or interfere with the signals that are being sent in between the orbital probes and the Earth-based systems, potentially affecting cell-phone communications, and other vital services such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is of utmost importance for safely navigating the ships and aeroplanes.

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