Geospace Dynamics Constellation

GDC Science News

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First GDC Paper is Published

April 5, 2024

The first GDC-specific paper was published in February 2024.


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Explore the Frontiers of Geospace Dynamics

Dec. 15, 2023

Dive into the forefront of geospace exploration with the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) Town Hall presentation from AGU 2023. This comprehensive slide deck offers insights into the latest developments and future directions in the study of the upper atmosphere's dynamics.


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GDC Planned Ephemeris Data Now Available for Download

July 7, 2023

Prepare for our upcoming six-observatory mission with access to the planned ephemeris data. This provides an insightful look into future space exploration and serves as an opportunity for fostering collaboration, inspiring innovative research, and involving the public in the captivating realm of space science.'''


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About GDC

Scientific Focus

Delving into the ionosphere-thermosphere system on a truly global scale: For the first time, we'll be undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the ionosphere-thermosphere that spans the entire globe. This will enable a thorough understanding of these crucial atmospheric layers, which interact with solar wind, support satellite operations, and facilitate long-distance communication.

Tracing the transport of energy and momentum: Our studies will focus on tracking the pathways of energy and momentum, particularly as they cross boundaries within the ionosphere and thermosphere. This will deepen our knowledge of atmospheric dynamics and the effects of space weather phenomena like solar storms.

Unraveling the feedback mechanisms: We aim to pinpoint and understand the feedback mechanisms in the ionosphere/thermosphere and magnetosphere. Determining these intricate interplays will help us predict how changes in one layer may affect others, further enhancing our models of space weather and climate.

Exploring cross-scale coupling across diverse spatial and temporal scales: Our approach considers the complex interactions across a variety of scales. Recognizing the significance of cross-scale coupling will allow us to understand the vast network of interactions within these atmospheric layers, creating a more cohesive model of our near-Earth space environment.

Societal Impact

Building the scientific foundation for NASA's role in the National Space Weather Action Plan: We're providing pivotal research that strengthens NASA's contribution to this national initiative. Our work will bolster the understanding and prediction of space weather phenomena, which have significant impacts on our technology-dependent society.

Investigating structure/processes impacting navigation/communication in the ionosphere: We're delving into the complexities of the ionosphere and its influence on vital systems. By studying its structure and processes, we aim to address issues related to GPS navigation, satellite communication, and long-range radio transmissions that this layer of our atmosphere affects.

Studying structure/processes impacting satellite orbit decay and prediction in the thermosphere: The thermosphere, where most satellites reside, is our area of focus. We're scrutinizing its structure and processes to enhance the understanding of satellite orbit decay, which impacts satellite lifespan, and to improve accuracy in satellite orbit prediction.

Energetic particle precipitation, satellite anomalies, and human radiation exposure: Our research explores the relationship between energetic particle precipitation and its effects, including satellite anomalies and radiation exposure risks for astronauts and high-altitude pilots. This understanding is crucial for protecting human life and ensuring the safe operation of satellites.

Welcome to GDC Video

GDC Instrument Teams



Atmospheric Electrodynamics probe for THERmal plasma

AETHER will describe the complex nature and structure of the ionosphere focusing on understanding phenomena that contribute to space weather. AETHER’s instrument is a Langmuir probe, which measures electron temperature and density, as well as other features, of the near-Earth plasma. AETHER is led by Laila Andersson at University of Colorado, Boulder.



Comprehensive Auroral Precipitation Experiment

CAPE will measure high-energy charged particles entering the upper atmosphere from Earth’s space environment. These particles deposit energy into the upper atmosphere, powering processes that cause large-scale redistributions of mass and energy. CAPE’s instrument uses electrostatic analyzers, which are able to precisely measure these charged particles. CAPE is led by Daniel Gershman at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.



Modular Spectrometer for Atmosphere and Ionosphere Characterization

MoSAIC will measure thermospheric winds and the composition of the thermosphere-ionosphere by observing the charged and non-charged particles within near-Earth space. MoSAIC’s instrument is a quadrupole mass spectrometer, which filters these particles by mass for detailed analysis. MoSAIC is led by Mehdi Benna at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in Baltimore.



Noise Eliminating Magnetometer Instrument in a Small Integrated System

NEMISIS will map out and study the electromagnetic energy that enters the upper atmosphere from Earth’s magnetosphere. It will quantify how these energy inputs vary in both space and time, and how they directly drive, and control dynamics observed in the ionosphere-thermosphere system.



Thermal Plasma Sensor

TPS addresses the collisions that couple the thermospheric (neutral) flows and the ionospheric (ion) flows;  investigate the role of large-scale ionospheric flows in generating smaller-scale ionospheric structures at high latitudes; study how structure in the low- and mid-latitude ionosphere is generated during times of geomagnetic activity.



Probe for Radio Occultation of Ionospheric LayErs

PROFILE will study how the three-dimensional distribution of plasma density in the ionosphere responds to input from high latitude energy sources. In addition, it will determine the conditions under which the ionosphere becomes highly structured, potentially interfering with radiowave propagation. PROFILE is a JPL instrument; The IPI is Olga Verkhoglyadova.