What is GOLD?

Video courtesy of NASA.

  • GOLD is a hosted payload funded by NASA on board SES-14.
  • The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will revolutionize our understanding of the nearest reaches of space. It fills a critical gap in knowledge of the Sun-Earth connection by observing a dynamic area in Earth’s upper atmosphere that responds both to space weather above, and the lower atmosphere below.
  • The hosted payload will observe the Sun’s impact on the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere from Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and transmit science data through SES-14’s communications payload to the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) for processing.
  • GOLD will 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
  • Launch in 2018; a 2-year nominal mission at geostationary orbit; extended mission possible
  • State-of-the-art space weather models will be used in 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

Launch details:

  • Launch date: Q1 2018
  • Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
  • Launch location: Kourou, French Guiana
  • Satellite manufacturer: Airbus Defense and Space
  • Orbital location: 47.5˚W

GOLD in the News: