NASA AIM Earth Orbiter Mission Ends Following Battery Issues

Written By: Zac Aubert

Published: Thu, Mar 16, 2023 6:43 PM

Latest Update: Thu, Mar 16, 2023 6:44 PM

After more than 15 years of operation, NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) spacecraft has ceased operations due to battery issues.

The spacecraft’s batteries began to decline in 2019, but AIM was still able to return a significant amount of data. However, with further battery power decline, the spacecraft can no longer receive commands or collect data. The spacecraft helped significantly change scientists’ understanding of the causes and formation of these clouds, resulting in 379 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Launched in 2007, AIM has orbited 312 miles above Earth, studying polar mesospheric clouds, also known as night-shining or noctilucent clouds. Initially, AIM was only slated to operate for two years, but it successfully completed its primary mission in 2009 and has been in extended operations status since then.

The AIM team will continue to monitor the spacecraft's communication for the next two weeks to determine if the spacecraft is able to reboot and transmit a signal. Although AIM's mission has come to an end, its contributions to scientific research and knowledge of polar mesospheric clouds will continue to impact future research and understanding of our planet's atmosphere.

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