NASA is set to launch a satellite that will examine the Earth's upper atmosphere to see how the boundary between our planet and space changes over time, the US space agency said. The new mission, called Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), will launch from Kourou, French Guiana, on January 25. The mission will focus on the temperature and makeup of Earth's highest atmospheric layers. Along with another upcoming satellite, called ICON, GOLD will examine how weather on Earth - and space weather caused by the Sun - affects those uppermost layers. "For years, we have been studying the Earth's upper atmosphere - thermosphere and ionosphere - and we have been looking at those (layers) in detail from the ground and from low-Earth orbit missions," Richard Eastes from the University of Central Florida was quoted as saying by 'Space.com'. "We wanted to be able to back off (to a higher orbit) and get the big picture, get a whole hemisphere at once.
That lets us put things into context that we can't understand when we are just looking at one little piece," said Eastes, the principal investigator for GOLD mission. GOLD will inspect the ultraviolet radiation that the upper atmosphere releases, and will also be the first to take comprehensive records of that atmospheric layer's temperature, Eastes added.
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