Active Cavity Irradiance Monitor Satellite

Mission Summary

The Active Cavity Irradiance Monitor Satellite, or AcrimSat, mission spent 14 years in orbit monitoring Earth's main energy source, radiation from the sun, and its impacts on our planet. The satellite's ACRIM 3 instrument was the third in a series of satellite experiments that have contributed to a critical data set for understanding Earth's climate: a 36-year, continuous satellite record of variations in total solar radiation reaching Earth, or total solar irradiance. Solar irradience creates winds, heats the land and drives ocean currents, and therefore contains significant data that climatologists can use to improve predictions of climate change and global warming.

Launched on Dec. 21, 1999, for a planned five-year mission, AcrimSat went silent on Dec. 14, 2013. Attempts since then to reestablish contact have been unsuccessful. The venerable satellite most likely suffered an expected, age-related battery failure.

Mission Events

2005: AcrimSat completes its five-year primary mission and begins operating under its extended mission.

Dec. 14, 2013: AcrimSat goes silent and attempts to reestablish contact are unsuccessful. The loss of contact is likely due to an expected, age-related battery failure. The mission officially comes to an end on Aug. 8, 2014.

Key Discoveries

Data from the mission helps researchers formulate global climate models and study solar physics.

Scientific Instrument(s)

- Active Cavity Irradiance Monitor 3 (ACRIM 3)

Acronym: AcrimSat
Type: Orbiter
Status: Past
Launch Date: December 20, 1999
11:13 p.m. PST (07:13 UTC)
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Mission End Date: August 08, 2014
Target: Earth
Current Location: Orbit:
Type: Near polar, sun-synchronous

Altitude: 713 km (apogee), 672 km (perigee)
Artist's rendering of the AcrimSat spacecraft. Image credit: NASA Sun sets for a NASA solar monitoring spacecraft

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