The AIM Mission  



SOFIE is onboard NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite. AIM was launched in April 2007 to study polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs), meteoric particles, and atmospheric waves. AIM continues to operate successfully, and variations in the orbit have resulted in different operational modes and changes to the SOFIE geographic coverage (see figure below).

SOFIE uses the technique of satellite solar occultation to measure solar energy passing through the limb of the earth's atmosphere as the sun rises or sets relative to the spacecraft. The measurements are accomplished using 16 spectral regions (i.e. bandpasses) covering wavelengths from 0.29 to 5.26 microns. The vertical field-of-view (FOV) is ∼1.6 km, and the detectors are over-sampled at a ∼0.2 km cadence. The measurements are used to retrieve temperature, the abundance of five gases (H2O, O3, CH4, CO2, and NO), PMC extinction at 11 wavelengths, and meteoric smoke extinction at 3 wavelengths. Gravity waves characteristics are retrieved using perturbations in the retrieved temperature versus height. The core SOFIE team is composed of GATS personnel, with members from other institutions including Hampton University, Virginia Tech., the Naval Research Laboratory, and the University of Colorado Boulder.


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