Triana: An Island View at L1
By Francisco P. J. Valero - Scripps Institution of Oceanography
The Triana space mission is an exciting opportunity to advance Earth and space science and simultaneously provide significant new educational materials to our students-the students that are the future of our science and space endeavors.
Triana complements current and planned missions for both low and geosynchronous orbit Earth observation, and for space weather monitoring. This mission will be a pathfinder; discovering new and better ways to observe our Earth system from deep space.
The Triana spacecraft will orbit the Lagrange-1 (L1) neutral gravity point, a point one million miles from Earth where the pull of Earth's gravity matches the pull from the sun. While there have been sun observing missions at L1, Triana will be the first Earth science satellite stationed there.
This unique vantage point provides a continuous view of the Sun-lit side of the Earth, as the planet slowly revolves about its axis. In contrast, Earth-observing satellites in low Earth orbit only sample a small and changing area while even geostationary satellites only view a portion of the Earth at any time.
The full disk, Sun-lit view of the Earth afforded by the L1 location has tremendous potential for Earth science. Triana will the first mission to explore that potential.
Triana will use an SMEX-Lite spacecraft developed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The scientific payload will consist of two Earth science instruments; the Scripps-NISTAR advanced active cavity absolute radiometers, and the Scripps-EPIC, a ten-channel telescope, plus a solar monitoring Plasma-Mag instrument package.
The instrumentation has been carefully chosen and specified to answer important questions about Earth science, and to maximize their potential to complement science data being collected from low and geosynchronous satellites. A brief summary of the Earth science to be addressed by Triana is provided below.
Earth Science Objectives
The Triana satellite will also have a sun-observing instrument, the Plasma-Magnetometer. It will provide early warning for solar flares and other extreme solar events that could allow utility companies and satellite operators to execute timely procedures to protect their assets. It might also provide some warning to manned space missions such as the space station or shuttle. These capabilities have already been demonstrated by the plasma magnetometer instruments on the Advance Composition Explorer (ACE), a space science satellite currently operating at L1 which is nearing the end of its design lifetime. Triana's Plasma-Mag instrument suite is an advanced, smaller version of the ACE instrumentation, and should arrive at L1 in time to continue this valuable service. NOAA, the US agency with responsibility for space weather forecasting, is already preparing to receive Triana data, as they do now with ACE.
Finally, a most exciting and significant payoff for the Triana mission may be in the area of education. Under the sponsorship of NASA, a separate educational enhancement follow-on project will involve professional educators in developing high quality educational products. These efforts will start with the inspirational views of the full sunlit Earth, and will lead to up-to-date educational materials that can be shared over the Internet. We see this enabling students to work on and experience science issues such as global changes in ozone, cloud cover, weather patterns, tracking of pollution plumes and seasonal changes. We will support new and innovative inquiry based learning that involves multiple disciplines, such as mathematics, geography, computer technology, and physical sciences.
If an objective view of Triana is taken, it should be evident that significant new Earth and space science can be derived from this important mission. The science instruments have been designed to complement existing Earth and space science satellites, while addressing new and unique questions that could not be answered without the deep space viewing position. We fully expect that the results will lead to additional Earth observing missions from deep space. Triana science, coupled with the educational opportunities that can be developed around the Triana data will make this a most exciting and effective mission.
Triana At Spacer.Com
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