The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:26:03 PDT on April 25, 2007 becoming the first satellite mission dedicated to the study of polar mesospheric clouds. A Pegasus XL rocket launched the satellite into a near perfectly circular 600 km sun synchronous orbit. AIM carries three instruments selected because of their ability to provide key measurements needed to address the AIM goal which is to determine why these clouds form and vary. The instrument payload includes a nadir imager, a solar occultation instrument and an in-situ cosmic dust detector. Detailed descriptions of the science, instruments and observation scenario are presented. Early science results from the first northern and southern hemisphere seasons show a highly variable cloud morphology, clouds that are ten times brighter than measured by previous space-based instruments, and complex features that are reminiscent of tropospheric weather phenomena. The observations also confirm a previously theorized but never before directly observed population of small ice particles in the altitude region above the main Polar Mesospheric Cloud (PMC) layer that are widely believed to be the indirect cause of summertime radar echoes.