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NASA prepares to launch next Earth-observing satellite mission
Date:1/20/2011

stem. The mission carries two primary instruments, the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) and the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM). APS will improve measurement of aerosols, the airborne particles that can influence climate by reflecting and absorbing solar radiation and modifying clouds and precipitation.

TIM will extend a decades-long data record of the solar energy striking the top of Earth's atmosphere, or total solar irradiance. APS will collect data at nine different wavelengths, from the visible to short-wave infrared, giving scientists a much-improved understanding of aerosols. The instrument, NASA's first Earth-orbiting polarimeter, will help scientists distinguish between natural and human-produced aerosols. The information will be used to refine global climate models and help scientists determine how our planet is responding to human activities.

The TIM instrument will maintain and improve upon a 32-year record of total solar irradiance, a value that fluctuates slightly as the sun cycles through periods of varying intensity approximately every 11 years. While scientists have concluded that solar variability is not the main cause of the warming observed on Earth in recent decades, the sun has historically caused long-term climate changes. Having a baseline of the solar energy that reaches Earth gives us a way to evaluate future climate changes. Better measurements of total solar irradiance give scientists another way to test their climate models and understand the sun's longer cyclical changes and how they may impact the climate.

Glory will fly in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 438 miles, about the distance from Boston to Washington. After launch, mission operators will conduct verification tests for 30 days and then begin to collect data for at least three years.

Glory's Taurus launch rocket also will carry into orbit a secondary payload: NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNA, mission. This mission w
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Contact: Sarah Dewitt
Sarah.l.dewitt@nasa.gov
301-286-0535
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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