AIM – SOFIE

Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere Solar Occultation
for Ice Experiment

The purpose of the AIM mission is the study of Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs) that form about 83 km above the earth’s surface in summer and mostly in the Polar Regions. The goal is to resolve why PMCs form and why they vary.

AIM will measure PMCs and the thermal, chemical, and dynamic environments in which they form to determine associations between these clouds and the meteorology of the polar mesosphere. Studying PMC variables has been proposed as a potential method for establishing indicators of global change.

SDL designed, fabricated, calibrated, and tested the primary sensor for the AIM suite: SOFIE (Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment). SOFIE combines IR/UV solar occultation, Gas Filter Correlation Radiometry (GFCR) and broadband Differential Absorption Radiometry (DAR) by solar image tracking.

The SOFIE sensor is one of three sensors aboard the AIM satellite.

Using a Pegasus XL rocket carried aloft by a carrier aircraft, NASA launched the AIM mission into low-Earth orbit from Vandenberg AFB April 25, 2007.

AIM has successfully completed its first season of PMC observations in the northern hemisphere and is currently conducting PMC observations in the southern hemisphere.