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Saturday, January 27, 2018

NASA Launches Satellite to Study the Edge of Space:

A new satellite called Global Observations on the Limb and Disc, or GOLD, was sent aloft this week to study the upper boundary of the Earth's atmosphere, where space begins. It is a very active and poorly studied region where weather from our planet meets weather from space. The very top layer of our atmosphere, from 80 to 900 kilometres up, is poorly studied because it is too high and thin for aircraft or balloons to fly through. Yet the upper portion is where some satellites and the International Space Station travel. The extremely rarefied air in this region interacts directly with powerful radiation from space, and is bombarded by high speed electrically charged particles streaming out from the sun called the solar wind. One beautiful side-effect of this onslaught from above is the eerie display of the aurora, the northern and southern lights. The GOLD instruments will scan this region from high above. It will monitor interactions that go beyond aurora, measuring chemical changes taking place in the uppermost regions of our atmosphere. Sunlight is so powerful at this altitude that it can strip electrons away from atoms, creating ions, which are electrically charged. Together, those ions are called the ionosphere. Ham radio operators are able to bounce their radio signals off this charged layer to communicate halfway around the planet.

from Daily dxerhamradionews

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