Aura Spacecraft Activation is Continuing

Aug 05, 2004
Aura

Aura spacecraft, launched July 15, is going very well so far.

Just over an hour after launch, the spacecraft separated from the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle. This was followed shortly thereafter by deployment of the spacecraft's solar array and transition to Sun point mode. The next day, the spacecraft transitioned to Earth point mode, where it remained another day before transitioning to fine point mode, the mission's normal operating mode. S-band communications with the space network began immediately, followed by routine ground network contacts. X-band playbacks from the solid-state recorder to the ground network are now ongoing as well.

All spacecraft subsystems have demonstrated readiness to support science operations, which cannot begin until the instruments are fully activated and Aura has reached its nominal orbit altitude.

With respect to orbit altitude, four of six planned ascent burns have been completed. The fifth ascent burn is planned for Fri., August 6. The Aura ascent plan anticipates reaching a nominal altitude of 705 kilometers (about 438 miles) this month.

All four instruments are powered and are systematically being activated; the following are some of the highlights that have occurred so far. The antenna launch latch for the Microwave Limb Sounder primary reflector has been released, and the receivers are undergoing characterization activities. Good output power from the Microwave Limb Sounder THz module gas laser local oscillator has been confirmed. The Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer translator has been unlatched, as has that instrument's pointing control system gimbals. The Sun-shield door for the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder has been released. Transition of the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument to science mode is paced by their significant outgassing requirements, which last about 30 days.

"From what we have seen so far, satellite performance appears very solid," said Rick Pickering, Aura project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "Also, the performance of the entire operations team has been tremendous. Not only are all the team members inherently sharp and well-trained, many of them have extensive experience with Aqua, which is paying great dividends."

Aura, a mission dedicated to the health of Earth's atmosphere, will help us understand and protect the air we breathe. Aura will help answer three key scientific questions: Is Earth's protective ozone layer recovering? What are the processes controlling air quality? How is Earth's climate changing? NASA expects early scientific data from Aura within 30 to 90 days.

Each of Aura's four instruments is designed to survey different aspects of Earth's atmosphere. Aura will survey the atmosphere from the troposphere, where mankind lives, through the stratosphere, where the ozone layer resides and protects life on Earth.

With the launch of Aura, the first series of NASA's Earth Observing System satellites is complete. The other satellites are Terra, which monitors land, and Aqua, which observes Earth's water cycle.

The High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder was built by the United Kingdom and the United States. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., developed and manages the Microwave Limb Sounder and Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument was built by the Netherlands and Finland in collaboration with NASA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the Aura mission.

The Microwave Limb Sounder is intended to improve our understanding of ozone in Earth's stratosphere, which is vital in protecting us from solar ultraviolet radiation. The Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer is an infrared sensor designed to study Earth's troposphere and to look at ozone and other urban pollutants.

For Aura information and images on the Internet, visit: www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2004/0517aura.html; and www.nasa.gov/aura.

For more information about the Microwave Limb Sounder, visit: mls.jpl.nasa.gov/.

For more information about the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, visit: tes.jpl.nasa.gov/.

The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.


Source: NASA

Explore further: SpaceX rocket explodes during test flight

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's ten-year-old Aura satellite tracks pollutants

Jul 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Aura satellite, celebrating its 10th anniversary on July 15, has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants. With instruments providing key ...

Unclouding our view of future climate

May 22, 2014

If we had a second Earth, we could experiment with its atmosphere to see how increased levels of greenhouse gases would change it, without the risks that come with performing such an experiment. Since we ...

Natural ozone changes suggest good news for future

Apr 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —New NASA research on natural ozone cycles suggests ozone levels in the lowest part of Earth's atmosphere probably won't be affected much by projected future strengthening of the circulating ...

NASA reveals new results from inside the ozone hole

Dec 11, 2013

NASA scientists have revealed the inner workings of the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica and found that declining chlorine in the stratosphere has not yet caused a recovery of the ozone hole.

Water in stratosphere plays key role in Earth's climate

Oct 03, 2013

Water vapor changes in the stratosphere contribute to warmer temperatures and likely play an important role in the evolution of Earth's climate, says a research team led by a Texas A&M University professor.

Violent Nabro eruption shown to pierce stratosphere

Feb 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—Researchers from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate report conclusive evidence that volcanic gases and aerosols from the explosive 2011 ...

Recommended for you

SpaceX rocket explodes during test flight

1 hour ago

A SpaceX rocket exploded in midair during a test flight, though no one was injured, as the company seeks to develop a spacecraft that can return to Earth and be used again.

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

20 hours ago

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Europe launches two navigation satellites

20 hours ago

Two satellites for Europe's rival to GPS were lifted into space on Friday to boost the Galileo constellation to six orbiters of a final 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

20 hours ago

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

Spectacular supernova's mysteries revealed

20 hours ago

(Phys.org) —New research by a team of UK and European-based astronomers is helping to solve the mystery of what caused a spectacular supernova in a galaxy 11 million light years away, seen earlier this ...

User comments : 0