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CINDI/CNOFS mission graphic

Coupled Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigations

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: April 16, 2008

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Program(s):Explorers, Heliophysics Explorers, Heliophysics Research, Missions of Opportunity

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The Coupled Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigations (CINDI), a mission to understand the dynamics of the Earth's ionosphere. The interaction between electrically neutral and electrically charged gases in the upper atmosphere has a major influence on the structure of the ionosphere.

CINDI will provide two instruments for the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite. C/NOFS, a United States Air Force (USAF) project, will predict the behavior of equatorial ionospheric irregularities which can cause major problems for communications and navigation systems.

CINDI’s goal is to extend the scope of the C/NOFS program to investigate the physical connections between the ion and neutral gases that lead to and promote the growth of equatorial plasma structure. Understanding these interactions extends far beyond the specific problem of determining when equatorial ionospheric structure will appear and into fundamental understanding of dynamo processes and momentum exchange that are important in all planetary environments where charged and neutral constituents have different mobility.

CINDI will also address two important questions related to ion-neutral interactions and their influence on the generation and evolution of ionospheric structure:

  • What are the relationships between the behavior of F-region neutral winds and the daily variability of ExB drifts?
  • How do F-region neutral winds and ExB drifts influence the evolution of irregularities?