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Mission Details

The Earth's energy balance and the effect on climate requires measuring black carbon soot and other aerosols, and the total solar irradiance. Glory is a low Earth orbit (LEO) scientific research satellite designed to achieve two major goals:

+ Collect data on the properties of aerosols, including black carbon, in the Earth's atmosphere and climate system. It will enable a greater understanding of the seasonal variability of aerosol properties.

+ Collect data on solar irradiance for the long-term effects on the Earth climate record. Understanding whether the temperature increase and climate changes are by-products of natural events or whether the changes are caused by man-made sources is of primary importance.

Glory's Instruments

The Glory spacecraft is equipped with the following scientific instrumentation: The Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM); and the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS), along with its two supporting Cloud Cameras.

Total Irradiance Monitor

The Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument is built by the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado. The instrument measures the amount of solar energy that enters the Earth's atmosphere. This information will help researchers understand any long-term changes in the amount of energy coming from the Sun and how those changes affect Earth's climate. The accuracy of Glory's TIM instrument is expected to be better than that of any other solar irradiance instruments currently in space. It will follow a record of observations made by an earlier TIM instrument flown on the SOlar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) mission, and continue an uninterrupted series of solar observations that span the past 30 years.

The TIM instrument will monitor the Sun during the daylight portion of each Glory orbit. Data acquired in 50-second intervals will track changes in the total solar energy, which will then be averaged to provide both 6-hourly and daily values. This virtual continual monitoring will help diagnose short-term solar mechanisms causing energy budget changes and will contribute to the vital long-term solar record.

Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor

The Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) instrument is built by Raytheon Inc. in El Segundo, California. This instrument will measure the size, quantity, refractive index, and shape of aerosols. This is the first space-based instrument to be able to identify different aerosol types, which will help researchers distinguish the relative influence of natural and human-caused aerosols on our global climate. The aerosol characterization capabilities of APS, coupled with the cloud identification function performed by the two on-board Cloud Cameras will allow scientists to determine, with very high accuracy, the global distribution of aerosols and cloud properties. The Glory Cloud Cameras are built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation (BATC) in Boulder, Colorado.

Glory will complete a series of 233 orbits of the Earth along differing ground tracks to create a net of observations. This pattern is repeated every 16 days. Such complete coverage of the Earth will help scientists learn about aerosols and their impacts across the globe.

Glory Spacecraft

The Glory Spacecraft is built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, in Dulles, Virginia. The spacecraft has two deployable solar array wings, is 3-axis stabilized, and has X-band/S-band RF communications capabilities. The structure is an octagonal aluminum space frame and there is a blowdown hydrazine propulsion module which contains enough fuel for much more than the 36 month baseline mission. The spacecraft bus provides payload power; command, telemetry, and science data interfaces, including onboard storage of data. The attitude control subsystem supports instrument pointing requirements in the 10's of arc-seconds.

Launch and Orbit

The Glory satellite will launch on a Taurus XL launch vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, located on the central coast of California, and will orbit as part of the Afternoon Constellation, also known as the A-Train, which is a series of Earth-observing satellites flying in close formation. The A-Train orbits the Earth once every 100 minutes.

Working Together to Make Glory Work

Getting Glory into space, and maintaining it once it is in orbit, will require the collaboration of numerous organizations across the United States.

Orbital Sciences Corporation is responsible for operating the spacecraft from the Mission Operations Center in Dulles, Virginia.

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado will provide the capability to command the TIM instrument, monitor its performance, and generate science data products.

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City will schedule APS instrument activities, monitor instrument (APS and Cloud Cameras) performance, and generate aerosol and cloud data products.

The TIM, APS and Cloud Camera data products will be archived and distributed by the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland.