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Official NASA Communication 93-123

Official NASA Communication 93-123

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Published by: NASAdocuments on Oct 05, 2007
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Paula Cleggett-HaleimHeadquarters, Washington, D.C.July 1, 1993(Phone: 202/358-0883)RELEASE: 93-123NASA SELECTS UPPER ATMOSPHERE INVESTIGATORSNASA today selected nine principal investigators to provideexperiments for a new mission to study the elusive uppermostlayers of the Earth's atmosphere. Six investigators also have beenselected as interdisciplinary scientists to study broad problemsusing data from two or more of the experiments.These investigators come from four different universities,two of NASA's research centers and four non-profit research and/orindustrial laboratories in the United States. Also, there areapproximately 75 co-investigators involved in the selectedinvestigations from nearly three dozen institutions in the U.S.,while another 15 are from institutions in Canada, Europe, Taiwanand Japan.The new mission, called TIMED(Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics), willstudy the atmospheric regions that lie roughly between 40 to 110miles (60 and 180 kilometers (km)) above the Earth's surface.TIMED consists of two nearly identical spacecraft in differentcircular Earth orbits, to be launched aboard small expendablelaunch vehicles. The spacecraft will travel in orbits havinginclinations of 95 degrees and 49 degrees. The operating lifetimeof each spacecraft is 24 months.The region of upper atmosphere TIMED will investigate,
sometimes called the "ignorosphere" by atmospheric researchers, isdifficult to study because it is too high for even the largestresearch balloons, which only reach a maximum altitude of about 25miles (40 km). The region is still dense enough, however, toquickly cause a satellite to decay from orbit.Most atmospheric research explores the lowest layers in theEarth's atmosphere, the troposphere, where all terrestrial lifeexists, and the next higher layer, the stratosphere, wherelarge-scale weather patterns such as the jet stream occur and inwhich modern jet aircraft routinely fly. - more - - 2 -The upper regions, which include the mesosphere and lowerthermosphere, are fundamental to understanding the Earth'satmosphere since they are the "skin" between the life-sustaininglower layers and outer space.These regions absorb a considerable amount of the ultravioletradiation from the sun. Also, they intercept the high energyatomic particles that come from the Sun or that are accelerated byyet unknown processes within the Earth's own magnetosphere, anarea that surrounds the planet like a giant cocoon.The most common evidence of the absorption of energy fromhigh energy particles are the northern and southern lights, oraurora, that can be seen shimmering in the night sky at highgeographical latitudes, especially during the epochs of maximumsolar activity which occur every 11 years.The TIMED mission is planned to have a nominal lifetime of 2years, sufficient to provide global coverage of the mesosphere andlower thermosphere through 2 full cycles of the Earth's seasons.TIMED is the first of a so-called "intermediate" series of space physics missions characterized by having a tightlycontrolled, pre-determined budget caps and a limited, focused setof science objectives to be accomplished in a pre-specifiedlifetime. All of these limitations aid in establishing a fixedcost for the entire mission, from beginning to end. TIMED iscurrently under consideration as a new start candidate.
The TIMED mission is managed by the Space Physics Division of NASA's Office of Space Sciences at NASA Headquarters, Washington,D.C. The project management for actual construction of thepayload and satellite have been assigned to NASA Goddard SpaceFlight Center, Greenbelt, Md.The principal investigators and the names of their scienceinvestigations selected for the definition phase of the TIMEDmission are:SELECTED EXPERIMENT (HARDWARE) INVESTIGATIONS:Dr. James M. Russell/NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va."Sounding of the Atmosphere Using Broadband Emission RadiometryExperiment."Dr. Thomas N. Woods/National Center for Atmospheric Research,Boulder, Colo."Solar Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Spectral Irradiance Experimentfor the TIMED Mission."Dr. Timothy L. Killeen/University of Michigan, Ann Arbor"A TIMED Doppler Interferometer."- more -- 3 - Dr. Jeng-Hwa Yee/Applied Physics Laboratory - Johns HopkinsUniversity,Laurel, Md."Density and Temperature Spectrograph for TIMED."Dr. Andrew B. Christensen/The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo,Calif."Global Ultraviolet Imager."Dr. Paul Mahaffy/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md."Temperature, Wind, Neutrals, and Ions Experiment."Dr. Roderick A. Heelis/University of Texas, Dallas"Electrodynamics of the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere, anInvestigation to Include an Ionospheric Dynamics Instrumentfor the TIMEDMission."

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