June 09, 2004

Earth remains the most intensely studied planet in the Solar System

Sometime between now and July 3rd, NASA's newest Earth Orbiting Satellite (EOS), AURA, will be placed into orbit.

The Aura spacecraft won't be alone in space during its planned six-year mission.

Once aloft, Aura will trail the Aqua spacecraft in a formation flight pattern to make comprehensive climate observations of the Earth. In 2005, the cloud-watching satellites - CloudSat and the CALYSPO - are expected to fill in the gap between the two EOS spacecraft, with the French-developed PARASOL satellite to join them in 2006.

Mission scientists have dubbed the five-spacecraft formation the "A-train," in which each spacecraft passes over a region 15 minutes after its predecessor and takes data that can ultimately be combined into a complete climate picture.

Some EOS satellites have continued to function for more than 12 years longer than their designed lifetime. That's a pretty good return on the investment, I'd say.

Posted by Ted at June 9, 2004 01:59 PM
Category: Space Program
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