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IMAGE (MIDEX 1, Explorer 78)


IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Exploration) uses neutral atom, ultraviolet, and radio imaging techniques to identify the dominant mechanisms for injecting plasma into the magnetosphere on substorm and magnetic storm time scales, determine the directly driven response of the magnetosphere to solar wind changes; and, discover how and where magnetospheric plasmas are energized, transported, and subsequently lost during substorms and magnetic storms.

IMAGE features six instruments:

  • Low-Energy Neutral Atom (LENA) imager
  • Medium-Energy Neutral Atom (MENA) imager
  • High-Energy Neutral Atom (HENA) imager
  • Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUV)
  • Far Ultraviolet Imager (FUV)
  • Radio Plasma Imaging (RPI)

The IMAGE observatory is a spin-stabilized spacecraft that measures 2.25 meters in diameter and 1.52 meters in height and weighs 494 kg (including instruments).

Science highlights include:

  • Confirmations: plasma plume creation, post-midnight peak in storm plasmas, the neutral solar wind, terrestrial origin of geospace storm plasmas and continuous nature of magnetic reconnection.
  • Discoveries: plasmaspheric shoulders and notches, proton auroras in unexpected places, surprisingly slow plasmasphere rotation, a hot oxygen geocorona and a secondary interstellar neutral atom stream
  • Resolutions: the source of kilometric continuum radiation, solar- wind and auroral intensity effects on ionospheric out flow and the relationship between proton and electron auroras during geospace storms.

IMAGE was successfully launched on 25 March 2000 on a Delta-7326 rocket into a highly elliptical polar orbit and operated until contact was unexpectedly lost on 18 December 2005, likely due to a power subsystem failure.

In early 2018, possibly signals of IMAGE have been received.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Research
Operator: NASA
Contractors: Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space (Sunnyvale)
Configuration: Octagonal prism, spin stabilized, 4 250 m antennas, 2 10 m booms
Propulsion: ?
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 494 kg
Orbit: 1000 km × 45922 km, 90
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IMAGE (MIDEX 1, Explorer 78) 2000-017A 25.03.2000 Va SLC-2W Delta-7326


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