NEWS | Feb. 15, 2017

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists set to collect data from International Space Station

By Jonathan B. Holloway

Scientists at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) will conduct two of 13 experiments on an upcoming Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program (STP) mission launching Feb. 17.

The launch will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Fla. and transport the STP-H5 payload to the International Space Station (ISS).

Research physicists, Drs. Andrew Stephan and Scott Budzien of NRL’s Space Science Division (SSD) are lead investigators of the Limb-Imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme Ultraviolet (UV) Spectrograph (LITES) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) Radio Occultation and Ultraviolet Photometer Co-located (GROUP-C) experiments.

Budzien’s GROUP-C study uses GPS radio occultation and high-sensitivity UV photometry to remotely observe the horizontal and vertical structures of the ionosphere. Using remote sensing within the orbit plane, GROUP-C characterizes the low and mid-altitude ionosphere, specifically focusing on two-dimensional (2-D) features at night.

“Our team is very excited to have the opportunity to fly the GROUP-C experiment on the International Space Station (ISS),” said Budzien.

Stephan says the LITES experiment will capture images of extreme-and-far UV airglow, the naturally-occurring light created by atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. Aiming LITES towards this atmospheric region between 100 and 350 km (60 to 210 miles) above the horizon will determine the composition and density of the ionosphere, thermosphere, and other properties of the overall space environment.

Stephan and Budzien affirm that GROUP-C and LITES have “unprecedented” remote sensing aptitudes in combination with one another.

Watch launch to ISS live here or on the SpaceX YouTube page.