RIP AIM: NASA Probe Retires From Observing Clouds on the Fringe of House

Artist’s concept of the AIM spacecraft in orbit around Earth.

Artist’s idea of the AIM spacecraft in orbit round Earth.
Illustration: NASA

For the previous 15 years, a small NASA spacecraft has explored the sting of house, probing the elusive clouds that type in Earth’s mesosphere. However the spacecraft is now not working the best way it used to, forcing the workforce to finish its mission.

NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice within the Mesosphere, or AIM, formally wrapped up operations after a lack of battery energy that rendered it unable to transmit knowledge, the house company declared on Thursday.

AIM began experiencing points with its batteries again in 2019, but the spacecraft was nonetheless thought-about wholesome sufficient to have the ability to return an honest quantity of knowledge again to floor management. However issues have just lately gotten worse for AIM, and the spacecraft hasn’t even been capable of gather knowledge, not to mention obtain instructions from mission management, in line with NASA. Sadly, it’s not potential for NASA to change the battery on AIM—a spacecraft that’s orbiting 370 miles (595 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.


The workforce behind the mission has known as it quits, though they “will proceed to watch AIM’s communication for 2 weeks in case the spacecraft is ready to reboot and transmit a sign,” NASA wrote in its assertion.

AIM launched on April 25, 2007, and has been orbiting Earth in a near-circular, Sun-synchronous orbit, which implies it crosses above any given level on our planet on the similar native time. From its vantage level, AIM appears down on Earth’s highest clouds that type over the North and South poles. The purpose is to determine why these night-shining clouds, which might solely be seen close to twilight, type.


The mission was solely slated to function for 2 years, however clearly ran well past its expiry date. Throughout its orbital stint, knowledge collected by AIM led to 379 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Bye AIM—you positive had fairly the run.

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