After 15 years in space, NASA’s AIM mission is ending. IN short blog post spotted by Gizmodo, the agency said Thursday it was ending operational support for the spacecraft due to a battery power outage. NASA first noticed problems with AIM’s battery in 2019, but the probe was still sending a “significant amount of data” back to Earth. After another recent drop in battery power, NASA says AIM has become unresponsive. The AIM team will monitor the spacecraft for another two weeks in case it restarts, but judging by the tone of NASA’s post, the agency isn’t holding its breath.
NASA launched the AIM – Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere mission in 2007 to study nocturnal or nocturnal clouds, which are sometimes known as fossilized clouds due to the fact that they can last for hundreds of years in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. From its vantage point 370 miles above the planet’s surface, the spacecraft has proven invaluable to scientists, with data collected by AIM appearing in 379 peer-reviewed papers, including a recent 2018 survey who found that methane emissions from human-induced climate change are causing nocturnal clouds to form more frequently. Pretty good for a mission NASA originally expected to operate for just two years. AIM’s demise follows that of another long-standing NASA spacecraft. Earlier this year, the agency deorbited the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite after nearly four decades collecting measurements of ozone and the atmosphere.