The NASA GOLD device conducted the first scan of our planet, receiving an amazing picture of the Western Hemisphere in the ultraviolet. GOLD will provide an unprecedented global picture of temperature and composition of the dynamic boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space. The device started from Kourou (French Guiana) on January 25, 2018 aboard the SES-14 satellite and reached the geostationary orbit in June 2018. After checking the payload on September 4, the readiness test began.
In front of you is the first image of UV-atomic radiation of oxygen (wavelength - 135.6 nm) from the upper atmospheric layer of the Earth, obtained by NASA GOLD. Photo taken at 6 am local time in eastern South America. The colors correspond to the brightness of the radiation, with the strongest being marked in red and the weak ones in blue. The emission is made at an altitude of 160 km, where the upper atmosphere absorbs photons and high-energy particles. Also visible are the lights (above and below) and the daytime glow on the right. The UV star HD 164284 is seen above the western horizon
The first picture was taken on September 11, and commissioning will begin in early October, while the team is preparing the device for the planned 2-year scientific mission. Managed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt). GOLD is the first scientific mission that went into space as a payload on a commercial satellite. Data from the instrument, represented by two identical UV spectrographs, will improve our understanding of the influence of the Sun on the upper atmosphere of the Earth, as well as the effect on Earth's weather below. Along with ICON, whose launch is planned for this fall, GOLD is a key element of NASA’s program to explore the boundary between Earth and space, as two missions will study this unpredictable near-Earth region to determine how it responds to solar and atmospheric influences.
Changes in near-Earth space can affect our lives, disrupting the functioning of satellites for communication and navigation. As a result, communication will break, delays of flights of planes, interruptions in signals of GPS and breaks in satellite television will begin. The incoming solar energy can also damage electronics and spacecraft detectors, putting astronaut life and health in orbit at risk. The better we understand the fundamental nature of the space environment, the more qualitative the means of protection will become.