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The AIM 2020 extended mission provides new opportunities to continuously observe the dynamics of the atmosphere globally and to continue study of the PMC regions. These synergistic capabilities will significantly enhance science return. The new sampling by CIPS (only begun in 2016), the potential for synergy with the new ICON and GOLD missions, and the emergence of the new solar cycle all offer exciting new science opportunities. These developments greatly expand the AIM scope as a global dynamics observatory that will play an important role in the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO). The AIM 2020 Science Objectives (SO) are listed in Table 1. Building on our progress since 2017, the 2020 SO-1 focuses on providing and interpreting data describing where and how often GW vertical coupling occurs and the GW impacts on other atmospheric processes. SO-2 addresses the questions of how PWs influence PMC formation in particular and impact mesospheric composition and structure more broadly. SO-3 investigates the pressing question of the missing solar cycle response in the mesosphere, analyzes long-term PMC change, extends unique CO2 data into the lower mesosphere, and explores relationships between HSO measurements of meteor influx and the novel SOFIE measurements of meteoric smoke in the mesosphere.  

Table 1 AIM Extended Mission Science Objectives (SOs)

Science Objective

Why More Data are Required

SO-1: What is the morphology of gravity waves entering the mesosphere and lower thermosphere?

Offers new opportunities to study GW impacts on the mesosphere and thermosphere with all-season, near global coverage and continuous multi-year GW data at ~50 km. Synergy with new GOLD data and the upcoming ISS/AWE mission.

SO-2: How does planetary wave activity influence PMCs and composition in the mesosphere?

Capitalize on the potential for synergy between the ICON low latitude wave data with AIM high latitude PW and auroral region observations. Extend statistics on key coupling events (such as SSWs) that may only occur once every two or three years.

SO-3: How does anthropogenic and extraterrestrial forcing impact the polar mesosphere?

New data are required to investigate the lack of a mesospheric solar cycle response in recent years, understand how rising greenhouse gases impact mesospheric conditions and PMCs, and quantify variations in meteoric influx.

AIM science and observations standing alone, address most 2013 Decadal Survey science challenges and 6 of the 13 Research Focus Areas identified in the 2014 Heliophysics Roadmap Science Traceability Matrix. Section 3.4 of this 2020 proposal discusses HSO applications and AIM synergy with the TIMED, ICON, GOLD, and Wind missions. While not part of the HSO, synergy with the COSMIC-2 mission is also described. When combined, these missions provide an extensive and unique data base for studying the dynamics and composition of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere, its coupling from below and coupling from above.

There are no technical issues or new risks that impact this extended mission. A spacecraft receiver issue that developed ~9 days after launch and caused intermittent commanding ability has been fully. The evolving AIM orbit has enhanced, rather than inhibited, our measurement capabilities and coverage, which we propose to use in this extended mission to maximize the research potential of AIM.


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