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Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, SMEX 9


Designation 31304 / 07015A
Launch date 25 Apr 2007
Country of origin United States
Mission Observation of high atmosphere
Perigee/Apogee 600 km sun-synchronous
Inclination 97.7°
Period 96.5 min
Launch vehicle Pegasus XL #39

Program from the Hampton University with developement managed by LASP (University of Colorado). Part of NASA's SMEX.

Orbital will design, develop and test the satellite for $25 million. Total program cost: $92 million.

Will determine the causes of the Polar Mesospheric Clouds, the highest-altitude clouds which form on the very edge of space. These clouds form in the coldest part of the atmosphere, about 80 km above the polar regions. Has 3 main instruments.

The mission's primary goal is to explain why these clouds form and what has caused them to become brighter and more numerous and appear at lower latitudes in recent years. AIM's results will provide the basis for the study of long-term variability in the mesospheric climate and its relationship to global climate change.

End of life

Out of service Mar 2023

External resources


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Technical data


Prime contractor Orbital
Mass at launch  
Mass in orbit  
Solar array  
DC power  
Design lifetime 2 years

Downlink on 2282.5 MHz
Carries 3 instruments:

SOFIE (Solar Occultation For Ice Experiment)

Will remote-sense the gasses that condense to NLCs. The instrument will look at the Sun as it passes through the limb of the Earth's atmosphere to measure the absorption of spectral lines of water vapor, ozone, nitric acid, and methane and derive their density profiles. It will also measure the temperature of the stratum. It was built at the Space Dynamics Laboratory of the Utah State University.

CDE (Cosmic Dust Experiment)

Is an in situ sampler of the (mostly) charged cosmic dust flux over the NLCs. It uses a permanent electrically polarized foil sensor which counts each impacting dust particle and its charge. It was built at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder.

CIPS (Cloud Imaging and Particle Size experiment)

Is a panoramic UV imager of the NLCs operating in the 265 nm wavelength band, with a field-of-view of 80° x 120°. It will provide the morphology of the clouds in both hemisphere.

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