here is a selection of frequently asked questions about Daedalus

  • Q.What is the current status of Daedalus?

    Daedalus has been selected as one of three candidates for ESA’s Earth Explorer 10 mission. The other two are HydroTerra (previously named G-Class) and Harmony (previously named Stereoid). Each of these three missions is undergoing phase 0 studies during 2019-2020, covering feasibility and requirements consolidation. Two out of three will be selected to go into phase A studies at the end of 2020. In 2022, one of the missions will be selected for full development, with a launch foreseen around 2027-2028.

  • Q.How can local measurements lead to global perspectives?

    The lower thermosphere and ionosphere (LTI) is a key, though poorly understood, area at the interface between our atmosphere and space. By virtue of its nearly-polar orbit, Daedalus will sample all latitudes of the globe every few months by its orbit perigee precession, and all local times throughout the mission lifetime by its local time precession. In so doing the mission will build up a global statistical picture of the LTI, in terms of parameters that until now have been sampled only sparsely and sporadically by sounding rockets, such as neutral atmosphere density, winds and composition, and electrical conductivity. Throughout its lifetime, the Daedalus mission will determine both the amount of variability and the longer-term climatology of these and other parameters within key regions that will encompass the auroral zones, polar caps, mid-latitude electric current systems and turbulent plasmas near the equator.

  • Q.How does Daedalus link to the lower atmosphere?

    Daedalus will measure the characteristics of energetic particle precipitation, which is known to impact the atmosphere from the surface up to the mesosphere or lower thermosphere, albeit in a yet unquantified way. EPP significantly affects stratospheric and mesospheric atmospheric composition below 100 km altitude via the production of odd hydrogen species (HOx ) and odd nitrogen species (NOx) which are involved in catalytic destruction of ozone. NOx can be long-lived during polar winter and can then be transported down into the lower mesosphere and stratosphere, where it is one of the main participants in catalytic ozone destruction. It is also known that energetic particle precipitation can affect temperature and the dynamics of the atmosphere down to the stratosphere and possibly even propagating down to the surface, due to a coupling of chemical composition changes affecting atmospheric heating and cooling rates, the mean circulation, and wave propagation and breaking. However, there are still a number of open questions in the theoretical description of the energetic particle precipitation impact; the most important are related to uncertainties in the formation rate of different NOx species due to a lack of knowledge regarding energetic particle precipitation characteristics, and the complex coupling between chemical changes, atmospheric heating and cooling rates, and atmospheric dynamics.
    Daedalus will measure the key characteristics of energetic charged particles that precipitate directly in the LTI and also charged particles of much higher energy that precipitate in the mesosphere and even below. These measurements will answer the unsolved question of what is the particle flux distribution as it precipitates into the Earth’s atmosphere, and provide more realistic fluxes needed for climate modelling leading to IPCC input [Matthes et al., 2017]. Recent estimates suggest that the under-estimate in EPP flux levels could be as large as a factor of 10 [Hilde, 2018] during moderate geomagnetic storms. Even so, coupled climate models have shown that enhanced wintertime mesospheric NOx is associated with surface air temperature changes in mid- to high-latitudes [Rozanov et al., 2005; Baumgartner et al., 2011]. In terms of HOx/NOx chemistry, this entails LTI local production that can be advected downwards in the polar night, as well as direct generation in the stratosphere/mesosphere that will immediately impact ozone chemistry.

  • Q.What is the meaning of Joule heating in the upper atmosphere, and what is its difference with the other derived heating products of Daedalus, namely Ohmic heating and Frictional heating?

    Joule heating in the Lower Thermosphere-Ionosphere (LTI) arises as magnetospheric currents flow through the ionosphere, due to the resulting collisions between ions and neutral particles of the thermosphere. Ohmic heating and Frictional heating are essentially the same geophysical quantity, approached through three different measurement methodologies. An analogy of Joule heating from electrical systems is the DC power consumption, given by Q = V*I, where V is the voltage and I the current. Using Ohm’s law: I = V/R, where R is the resistance, the power consumption can also be written as Q = V2/R. Finally, expressed in terms of the resistance and current, heating can also be written as Q = R*I2. This means that if you measure both voltage and the current, then this gives not only the power consumption, but also the resistance, R=V/I.
    Similarly, in the LTI there are the three methods to derive the heat production, which are as follows, with the electrical analogy in the last column:

    TermDerivationElectrical systems equivalent
    Joule heatingqj = j·EV*I
    Ohmic heatingqΩ = σP E2V2/R
    Frictional heatingqf = jP2PR*I2

    The need for obtaining all three estimations arises from the difficulties in accurately measuring all involved parameters across the transition region in the LTI, and in particular in the 100 to 200 km altitude range.