With its post-launch engineering checkouts complete, NASA’s TIMED
(Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics) spacecraft
is now globally studying one of Earth’s final atmospheric frontiers.

Since its launch on Dec. 7, 2001, TIMED principal investigators and mission
operations personnel at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., and the spacecraft instrument teams located
in Colorado, Michigan, Virginia and Maryland, have been conducting routine
engineering checkouts of the spacecraft and its four instruments and
preparing TIMED for data collection.

The spacecraft has since been declared operational and is beginning its
two-year science mission to study the influences of the sun and humans on
the least explored and understood portion of Earth’s atmosphere – the
Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere/Ionosphere (MLTI), a gateway between
Earth’s environment and space. TIMED is focusing on a portion of this
atmospheric region located approximately 40-110 miles (60-180 kilometers)
above the surface, studying its basic structure and how energy is
transferred into and out of this area.

“We’re very excited that our science mission is underway,” says Dr. Sam Yee,
APL TIMED project scientist and the mission’s science team leader. “TIMED’s
observations will provide us with the first-ever global picture of this
critical region of our atmosphere, which will allow scientists to form a
baseline for future studies of this area. TIMED will characterize the
physical properties of this region, enabling the scientific community to
make future ‘space weather’ predictions and determine how it affects things
like communications, satellite tracking, spacecraft lifetimes and spacecraft
reentering Earth’s atmosphere.”

TIMED is the first mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. The
Solar Terrestrial Probes Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Md., oversees the TIMED mission for the Office of Space
Science in Washington, D.C. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory built and now operates the spacecraft, leads the project’s
science effort and manages the mission’s Science Data Center for NASA.

For more information about the status and location of the TIMED spacecraft
and its mission, visit www.timed.jhuapl.edu.