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Northrop Grumman-Built Aura Spacecraft Declared Operational

NASA's newest Earth Observing system satellite, Aura.
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Oct 14, 2004
NASA has declared Aura, the newest Earth Observing system (EOS) satellite built by Northrop Grumman operational. Aura, the second EOS satellite built by the company for NASA, has started to provide the most comprehensive space-based measurements ever of atmospheric gases.

Northrop Grumman turned over the symbolic "key" to the spacecraft in a ceremony held today at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Aura will be operated by engineers and technicians stationed at Goddard's mission control center for the next six years. Aura was launched July 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

"Aura's smooth transition to operational status is an example of our company's commitment to mission success and close partnership with NASA Goddard," said Wes Bush, president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector.

"We are confident that Aura, like its sibling Aqua, will make major contributions to the understanding of long-term climate changes over its lifetime."

Aura is a member of Northrop Grumman's family of spacecraft that feature low-jitter, precision pointing and longevity for scientific and operational remote sensing missions.

The versatile spacecraft has a large payload deck that was easily adapted for the mission-specific needs of Aura and Aqua, and will be adapted for future earth observation missions such as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Northrop Grumman applied the lessons learned building Aqua to Aura to reduce costs and improve quality. Design changes were minimized, mature flight software was used, common parts were bought at the same time, and experienced personnel was retained to work on Aura.

Aura carries instruments that have already begun working together to provide measurements in the troposphere and stratosphere. The satellite will help to answer key scientific questions - Is the Earth's ozone layer recovering? What are the processes controlling air quality? How is the Earth's climate changing?

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NASA Experiment Celebrates 20 Years In Orbit
Hampton VA (SPX) Oct 14, 2004
From volcanic eruptions to ozone holes, a NASA instrument that monitors Earth's upper atmosphere marks twenty years in orbit. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II) instrument was deployed October 5, 1984, from the Space Shuttle Challenger aboard the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS.)

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