Video courtesy of NASA.

The Global-scale Observations of the Limb (GOLD) is a payload funded by NASA hosted on board SES-14.  The primary purpose of GOLD’s mission is to revolutionize the understanding of the space environment by filling the critical gap in knowledge of Sun-Earth connections.

The hosted payload observes the Sun’s impact on the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere from Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and transmits science data through SES-14’s communications payload to the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) for processing. GOLD continues to make breakthrough measurements of temperature and composition that are important for understanding satellite drag and disruptions of communication and navigation driven by the ionosphere.

Mission Overview

  • High-resolution far-ultraviolet imaging spectrograph with two identical channels
  • Global-scale imaging of the disk with a 30-minute cadence
  • Host spacecraft, SES-14, is a commercial communications satellite
  • Launched in 2018 as a 2-year nominal mission at geostationary orbit; NASA is now extending the mission duration
  • State-of-the-art space weather models being used for data analysis

Science Objectives

  • Determine how geomagnetic storms alter the temperature and composition of the Earth’s atmosphere
  • Analyze the global-scale response of the thermosphere to solar extreme-ultraviolet variability
  • Investigate the significance of atmospheric waves and tides propagating from below on the temperature structure of the thermosphere
  • Resolve how the structure of the equatorial ionosphere influences the formation and evolution of equatorial plasma density irregularities



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