ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer)


NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission will study the frontier of space: the dynamic zone high in our atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above.

ICON will:
--Explore the variability in our near-Earth space environment.
--Help understand the influence of terrestrial weather on near-Earth space.
--Improve understanding of space weather that can affect our technology, life, and society.

ICON carries four instruments to collect images of the ionosphere and to directly measure characteristics of the space environment through which it flies. ICON will fly in an orbit around Earth at a 27-degree inclination and at an altitude of some 360 miles. This places it in position to observe the ionosphere around the equator for a view of what's happening at the lowest boundary of space at about 55 miles up to 360 miles.

Launch: TBD 2018

Reminder: email links to visitors

ICON Mission -
ICON Spacecraft and Instruments -
Ionosphere Science -

UC Berkeley
ICON Mission -

ICON Mission -

Click on image/link for larger view

iconairglownight.png ICON mission, depicted in this artist's concept, will study the ionosphere from a height of about 350 miles to understand how the combined effects of terrestrial weather and space weather influence this ionized layer of particles.

stopgapblobsv2-01.png Around Earth's equator, bright swaths of color known as airglow, can appear hovering at about 50 to 300 miles above the surface of Earth. These are the result of a complex interaction between Earth's magnetic field lines - shown in this illustration as white lines connecting the North and South poles - and terrestrial weather.

ionospherev8-02.pngICON mission will orbit above the upper atmosphere, through the bottom edge of near-Earth space.

GOLD_ICON-scan.jpg The orbits and scanning profiles for ICON (in low-Earth orbit) and GOLD (in geostationary orbit). Here, the colors over Earth represent model data of the density of a single ionized oxygen atom at an altitude of 350 kilometers. Red represents high density.


Click on image/link for larger view

ICON-video tn.png ICON orbits above the upper atmosphere of earth, observing both the upper atmosphere and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere, which extends from about 50 to 360 miles above the surface of Earth.
(YouTube, 00:02:00)

EarthAtmosphere-video tn.png Time-lapse view of Earth's Limb from ISS. ICON observes how interactions between terrestrial weather and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere create the colorful glow.
(YouTube, 00:00:39)

Documents and PowerPoints
ICON powerpoint.pptx
ICON Fast Facts.pdf

Related MGGP Links


SS-simulator.jpg Solar System Simulator - JPL

logo-eotss-main.png Eyes on the Universe - JPL


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