SMILE Mission

SMILE Mission Key Facts and Figures


SMILE Mission Overview


SMILE Spacecraft. Credit: ESA/CAS


Launch: 2021

Launch vehicle: either single launch on Vega-C or shared launch on Soyuz or Ariane 6-2

Launch mass: Around 2000 kg

Operational mission: Nominal 3 years of operations

Orbit: Perigee 5,000 km. Apogee ~121000 km. 70 or 98 degree inclination. ~51 hours duration.

Instrument payload: Soft X-ray Imager (SXI), UV imager (UVI), Light ion Analyser (LIA) and Magnetometer (MAG)


SMILE Science


Sun-Earth Connection. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab


SMILE will tackle three key questions that currently remain unresolved:

What are the fundamental modes of the dayside solar wind/magnetosphere interaction?

The manner in which energy and plasma enters the magnetosphere is crucial to understanding and predicting how the magnetosphere will respond. SMILE will explore the phenomenon of magnetopause reconnection, and seek to determine when and where transient and steady reconnection states dominate.

What defines the substorm cycle?

The substorm, a disturbance in Earth's magnetosphere that causes energetic particles to enter the ionosphere from higher latitudes, is thought to control how energy and plasma circulate within Earth's magnetosphere. SMILE aims to define this cycle, including timing and amplitudes.

How do CME-driven storms arise, and what is their relationship to substorms?

Geomagnetic storms driven by coronal mass ejections (CME) represent a severe space weather threat. SMILE will study how and why CME-driven storms develop, and determine whether or not they are always separate phenomena, or can be considered as sequences of substorms.


Further information on the SMILE mission and instrument payload can be found at the ESA SMILE mission pages here.

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