Satellite products provider SES Government Solutions (SES GS) was awarded a five-year contract by the University of Colorado to host a Nasa funded payload on board SES-14.

The contract concerns a heliophysics mission called Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (Gold) which is part of Nasa Explorer programme. The mission seeks to revolutionise the understanding of the space environment by filling the critical gap in knowledge of Sun-Earth connections.

The hosted payload will transmit data of the Sunís impact on the Earthís thermosphere and ionosphere from Geostationary (Geo) orbit. Both of these layers of the Earthís upper atmosphere are very sensitive to space weather events and space climate, with potential societal impacts. Uncertainties in the thermosphere are a primary source of uncertainty for operating satellites in low Earth orbit. Fluctuations in the ionosphere interfere with signals from communications and global positioning satellites.

The contract includes satellite construction, launch and two years of on-orbit operations, with options to extend on an annual basis. The satellite has a life expectancy of 15 years. Launching in 2017, SES-14 will replace SESís NSS-806 satellite at 47.5/48 degrees West.