NASA Selects Berkeley to Build Space Weather Satellite

NASA Selects Berkeley to Build Space Weather Satellite

NASA announced $200 million award last week for the University of California, Berkeley, for building a satellite to figure out effects of earth's weather at the edge of the space.

The satellite will enable the scientists to improve forecast of extreme "space weather" that can interfere with global positioning satellites and radio communications to alter their functioning.

The satellite mission is called as the Ionospheric Connection Explorer. The scientists will design, build and operate the ICON at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory.

ICON is scheduled to launch in 2017 to orbit 550 kilometers above earth in the ionosphere. The satellite will be orbiting over the edge of the space where the sun ionizes the air.

The ionized air then regularly creates shifting streams and sheets of charged particles. These can interfere with GPS signals and radio signals that travel through and reflect back off the ionosphere.

The ICON will help scientists have better understanding of the association between storms near earth's surface and space-weather storms.

The project's principal investigator, Thomas Immel, a senior fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory said, "Ten years ago, we had no idea that the ionosphere was affected and structured by storms in the lower atmosphere. We proposed ICON in response to this new realization".

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