NASA has launched a new satellite that is designed to study the boundaries of our atmosphere. The new satellite will orbit in the region, where the atmosphere of the planet meets with space. The satellite is named as ICON, the short form for Ionospheric Connection Explorer. The launch method for this satellite was different than all other satellites. ICON was dropped from the airplane in the sky, and then the rockets mounted on the satellite ignited after it dropped. The mounted rockets ignited and sent ICON Satellite on its way to the region where the atmosphere meets the space.
The ionosphere is the region of the upper atmosphere, which meets with space. It is extended for several hundred miles and consists of the major chunk of the upper atmosphere. The ionosphere is the charged part of the atmosphere, which handles all of the solar flares and extraterrestrial radiation. That’s why all of the satellites and other spacecraft that orbit around the ionosphere face the communication disruption frequently. NASA’s heliophysics division director, Nicola Fox, said that the ionosphere is the protected layer, which separates the empty space and the atmosphere. Also, it protects the planet from cosmic rays and solar radiation that is harmful to humans and other living beings.
Extreme weather conditions on the planet, a layer of Ozone, atmospheric action, and also solar radiation is keeping the ionosphere active, which is an interesting topic for study. The ICON satellite is a refrigerator-sized spacecraft, designed to analyze the activity in the ionosphere. The satellite will analyze and relay the information about the activity, like the gas formation, effect of radiation, and ionization in the layer. The ICON satellite was scheduled to launch nearly two years ago, but the technical glitches with Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus rocket caused the delays for two years. ICON is not the only satellite analyzing the ionosphere, but NASA’s GOLD satellite is also doing the same from the last few years.