EZIE Does It: NASA’s Next Step in Unraveling Earth’s Electrifying Space Connections

Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE)

The Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) —is a SmallSat mission that will characterize the electric currents that link Earth’s aurora to the planet’s magnetosphere. This illustration shows the three EZIE spacecraft orbiting above the aurora at one of Earth’s poles Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA’s Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) has passed its critical design review, keeping on track for a 2024 launch. The mission will provide unique imaging of electrical currents between Earth and space, improving our understanding of space weather phenomena and their impact on Earth.

On March 23, 2023, NASA’s Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) successfully passed its critical design review, marking a major milestone for the project and keeping it on pace for a scheduled launch next year.

EZIE will provide never before seen imaging of the electrical currents that link our planet and the surrounding space.

“We are excited for what we will learn from EZIE,” said Peg Luce acting director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This mission will deepen our knowledge of the Sun-Earth connection and help us better understand the electrical currents that link beautiful aurora to Earth’s magnetosphere. This is critical because the same space weather phenomena that power the amazing aurora can cause interference with radio and communication signals and utility grids on Earth’s surface, and damage to spacecraft in orbit.”

NASA Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE)

Slated to launch no earlier than 2024, EZIE will send a trio of SmallSats to study the auroral electrojets, which are electrical currents flowing 60-90 miles (95-145 kilometers) above Earth’s poles and are just a small portion of the enormous electrical current that flows between Earth’s magnetosphere and the planet. Credit: NASA

For more on this news, see NASA’s EZIE To Unveil the Charged Link Between Earth and Space.

Financial support for EZIE is provided by the Heliophysics Explorers Program, overseen by the Explorers Program Office situated at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The mission is spearheaded by APL, responsible for designing, building, and managing EZIE, while collaborating with JPL and Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT).

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