Double Vision: NASA Earth Satellites Prep for Launch

NASA's Glory spacecraft (left) and Aquarius spacecraft (right) At left, NASA's Glory spacecraft sets atop its Taurus XL rocket at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, awaiting its scheduled March 4 launch, while at right, nearby at Vandenberg, erection of the Delta II rocket that will deliver NASA's Aquarius spacecraft to orbit this June has begun. Image credit: NASA/VAFB
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March 03, 2011


› Glory Contingency Update

In a rare event, two NASA launch vehicles currently rise above California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, as NASA's two, new Earth monitoring satellites, Glory and Aquarius, ready for their respective launches.

Both the Glory spacecraft and Taurus XL rocket are ready for launch Friday, March 4, at 2:09:43 a.m. PST (5:09:43 a.m. EST). The weather forecast is 100 percent "go," with the possibility of some fog and a low ceiling not expected to be an issue.

The liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base (Launch Complex 576-E) is targeted for the middle of a 48-second launch window. Spacecraft separation will occur 13 minutes after launch.

Technical issues with ground support equipment for the Taurus XL launch vehicle led to the scrub of the first launch attempt on Feb. 23.

Data from the Glory mission will allow scientists to better understand how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate. Both aerosols and solar energy influence the planet's energy budget -- the amount of energy entering and exiting Earth's atmosphere.

Meanwhile, nearby, the first stage of the Delta II rocket that will carry NASA's Aquarius instrument into low Earth orbit has been raised onto its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2).

Scheduled to launch in June, Aquarius' mission will provide monthly maps of global changes in sea surface salinity. By measuring ocean salinity from space, Aquarius will provide new insights into how the massive natural interplay of freshwater among the ocean, atmosphere and sea ice influences ocean circulation, weather and climate.

Aquarius will launch on the Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC)-D spacecraft, built by Argentina's Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE). The SAC-D spacecraft and its Aquarius instrument are scheduled to be shipped from South America to the launch site in late March. The Aquarius instrument was built jointly by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Alan Buis 818-354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

2011-064



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