Alrad Photonics delivers optics for Icon spacecraft

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ALRAD PHOTONICS, UK distributors for Bach Research, is pleased to announce the delivery of diffraction gratings and optics for two instruments that will fly aboard the NASA ICON Spacecraft. Under a contract with Praxis Inc, Bach delivered multiple sets of gratings and spares to be incorporated into the MIGHTI instrument which is being built at the Naval Research Laboratory in the USA. Under a contract with UC Berkeley Space Science Laboratories, Bach Research also delivered custom UV Optics for the FUV instrument aboard ICON.

The Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON mission, is under development by NASA for flight in 2017. ICON will explore a swath of the Earth's atmosphere where the weather close to the ground impacts the dynamic space environment above in unexpected ways.

To study the connection between these space weather disturbances and Earth's weather, ICON will measure how motions in the lower atmosphere are transmitted into space. The lowest layer of the atmosphere -- the one we live in and where we experience weather -- is the troposphere.

Above that are the stratosphere, the mesosphere, and the thermosphere. All of these are layers of the atmosphere made of neutral gas, which can move in reaction to the weather closest to Earth.

ICON will fly with four instruments. The Michelson Interferometer for Global High-Resolution Thermospheric Imaging, or MIGHTI, will observe the temperature and speed of the neutral particles. The Ion Velocity Meter will observe the speed of the charged particle motions, which may be very different from the neutral gas. Measurements of the particle density and composition are made by two spectrographic imagers: one, EUV, gathering extreme ultraviolet light, the other, FUV, gathering far ultraviolet light. These will be able to spot light emitted or scattered from particles in the thermosphere and ionosphere, which can then be translated into understanding just how many neutral and ionized particles are present, as well as what types of particles are predominant under different conditions.