Here's some exciting news: NASA has launched number eight in its Explorer series of small science satellites, the first in over a year.
The 41kg probe has a brand-new type of mission, to explore the atmospheric layer where the sun's merciless energy strips atoms of their electrons, thus ionizing them. This so-called Ionosphere has some fascinating properties, most significant of which is its ability to reflect radio waves. This is why you can pick up shortwave broadcasts from around the globe. From a purely scientific standpoint, knowing about the mechanics of the ionosphere allows you to learn more about atmospheric electricity and the base of our planet's magnetosphere. It is, essentially, our first sea wall against the ocean of space.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey