Midcourse Space Experiment is a Ballistic Missile Defense Organization satellite that was launched April 24, 1996 into a 900 km, polar, near-Sun synchronous orbit. The primary instrument was the 35cm Spatial Infrared Imaging Telescope (SPIRIT) III, cooled to 11 - 12° Kelvin by a solid hydrogen cryostat. The IR instruments included 5 scanning focal plane arrays that spanned 4.2 - 26 µm. The radiometer resolution (18") was more than 35 times smaller than IRAS, providing much greater spatial resolution than any currently available IR survey. The cryogen phase of the mission ended on February 26, 1997. During the ten months of the cryogen phase over 200 GBytes of data on Celestial Backgrounds were obtained. See the MSX Celestial Backgrounds Team Home Page for additional details.
MSX mapped the Galactic Plane, the IRAS gaps, the zodiacal background, confused regions away from the Plane, deep surveys of selected fields at high galactic latitudes, large galaxies, asteroids and comets. The data from Galactic Plane and IRAS gaps surveys as well as observations of the LMC have been processed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The resulting catalogs of point sources and images are now available for use by the community at NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC). An explanatory guide describing the mission and catalog charactersitics is also included in this release. A gallery of some of the more spectacular MSX images is now available online.
Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) is an all-sky camera experiment capable of imaging coronal mass ejections (CMEs) as they propagate from the Sun through the solar wind. SMEI will significantly improve space weather forecastes, detect potentially damaging Earth-bound CMEs, and help protect spaceassets. SMEI’s all-sky images will also greatly aid astronomers and astrophysicists in understanding solar processes and detecting astronomical phenomena. SMEI will be launched into an 830 km circular, sun-synchronous orbit as part of the Space Test Program's Coriolis Mission in January 2003.