SES-14 with GOLD (bottom left of spacecraft)
|Operator||Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics|
|Manufacturer||Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics|
|Instrument type||Imaging spectrograph|
|Function||Observation of Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere|
|Mission duration||Elapsed: 2 years, 10 months, 4 days|
|Began operations||29 January 2018, 00:23UTC|
|Mass||36.8 kg (81 lb)|
|Dimensions||51 × 55 × 69 cm (20 × 22 × 27 in)|
|Power consumption||72.4 watts|
|Spectral band||Far ultraviolet|
|Data rate||6 Mbps|
|Launch date||25 January 2018, 22:20UTC|
|Rocket||Ariane 5 ECA, VA-241|
|Launch site||Guiana ELA-3|
Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) is a heliophysics Mission of Opportunity for NASA's Explorers program. Led by Richard Eastes at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, which is located at the University of Colorado, Boulder, GOLD's mission is to image the boundary between Earth and space in order to answer questions about the effects of solar and atmospheric variability of Earth's space weather. GOLD was one of 11 proposals selected, of the 42 submitted, for further study in September 2011. On 12 April 2013, NASA announced that GOLD, along with the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), had been selected for flight in 2017. GOLD, along with its commercial host satellite SES-14, launched on 25 January 2018.
GOLD is intended to perform a two-year mission imaging Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere from geostationary orbit. GOLD is a two-channel far-ultraviolet (FUV) imaging spectrograph built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and flown as a hosted payload on the commercial communications satellite SES-14. Additional organizations participating in the GOLD mission include the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Virginia Tech, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Central Florida, Computational Physics Inc., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Boston University, and Clemson University.
In June 2017, SES announced the successful integration of GOLD with the SES-14 satellite under construction at Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France. GOLD was launched on 25 January 2018 at 22:20 UTC aboard Ariane 5 flight VA241 from the Guiana Space Centre.
The scientific objectives of the GOLD mission are to determine how geomagnetic storms alter the temperature and composition of Earth's atmosphere, to analyze the global-scale response of the thermosphere to solar extreme-ultraviolet variability, to investigate the significance of atmospheric waves and tides propagating from below the temperature structure of the thermosphere and to resolve how the structure of the equatorial ionosphere influences the formation and evolution of equatorial plasma density irregularities. The viewpoint provided by GOLD's geostationary orbit – from which the same hemisphere is always observable – is a new perspective on the Earth's upper atmosphere. This viewpoint allows local time, universal time and longitudinal variations of the thermosphere and ionosphere's response to the various forcing mechanisms to be uniquely determined.