The Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorers (AMPTE) program was a three-nation, three-spacecraft mission designed to study the sources, transport and acceleration of energetic magnetospheric ions, and to study the interaction between clouds of cool, dense, artificially injected plasma and the hot, magnetized, rapidly flowing natural plasmas of the magnetosphere and solar wind. The three AMPTE spacecraft consisted of (1) the NASA Charge Composition Explorer (CCE), (2) the Federal Republic of Germany's Ion Release Module (IRM), and (3) the United Kingdom Satellite (UKS). All three were launched together on August 16, 1984, into near-equatorial elliptical orbits. All contain extensive instrumentation supported by a diverse team of investigators, with the CCE and IRM providing the only existent complete data set on energetic ion spectra, composition and charge state throughout the near-earth magnetosphere.
University of Iowa instrument components were flown on the AMPTE/IRM spacecraft.
In addition the IRM carried out eight major active ion releases--two releases of clouds of lithium ions in the solar wind in front of the magnetosphere (September 11 and 20, 1984), barium "artificial comet" releases in the dawn and dusk magnetosheaths (December 27, 1984 and July 18, 1985), and two each releases of lithium and barium ions in the near magnetotail (March 21; April 11, 23; May 13, 1985).