Hampton University (HU) is the prime contractor with NASA and manages the programmatic aspects of the project, including the NASA interface, the subcontracts to the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and other participating universities, project reporting to NASA and manages other administrative efforts required. The Principal Investigator, Dr. James M. Russell III, at HU, leads the science, instrument, and spacecraft teams. AIM data will be analyzed and prepared for public archiving by Hampton University with the assistance of GATS Inc.
The overall goal of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) experiment is to resolve why Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs) form and why they vary. By measuring PMCs and the thermal, chemical and dynamical environment in which they form, we will quantify the connection between these clouds and the meteorology of the polar mesosphere. In the end, this will provide the basis for study of longterm variability in the mesospheric climate and its relationship to global change.
The results of AIM will be a rigorous validation of predictive models that can reliably use past PMC changes and present trends as indicators of global change. This goal will be achieved by measuring PMC abundances, spatial distribution, particle size distributions, gravity wave activity, cosmic dust influx to the atmosphere and precise, vertical profile measurements of temperature, H2O, OH, CH4, O3, CO2, NO, and aerosols. These data can be obtained only by a complement of instruments on an orbiting spacecraft because of the need for global coverage and because extinction and foreground emissions compromise optical sensing from the ground.