Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feb. 23 NASA mission to tote $28 million CU-Boulder instrument and tiny student satellite

University of Colorado at Boulder News: A $28 million University of Colorado Boulder instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Feb. 23.

Designed and built by a team from CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the instrument called the Total Irradiance Monitor, or TIM, will point directly toward the sun to measure both short- and long-term fluctuations in the sun's energy output as it reaches the top of Earth's atmosphere. Such measurements are important because variations in the sun's radiation can influence long-term climate change on Earth, said LASP researcher Greg Kopp, principal investigator on the TIM.

The Taurus XL rocket ferrying the Glory satellite also will be carrying a tiny CU-Boulder satellite designed and built by about 100 students, primarily undergraduates, who are participating in the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. The CubeSat satellite will be ejected from the rocket at about 400 miles in altitude to orbit the Earth and study new space communications techniques.

The CU-Boulder solar instrument on Glory is the most accurate instrument ever made to study the energy output from the sun and will continue a 32-year-long data record of solar radiation by NASA and other agencies, said Kopp. NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, a $100 million satellite designed, built and operated by CU-Boulder's LASP and launched in 2003, is equipped with a first-generation TIM instrument as well as three other solar measuring instruments.

"We'd like to know how the sun's energy changes over both the short and long term," said Kopp. "This spacecraft is carrying extremely sensitive instruments for monitoring solar variability, which makes the mission especially relevant given climate change on Earth and the importance of determining the natural influence on those changes."

Glory will join five other NASA Earth-observing satellites as part of the Afternoon Constellation, or "A-Train," a tightly grouped series of spacecraft that circle the globe several times each day to gather information on Earth's biosphere and climate, including hurricane behavior and climate change. The A-Train spacecraft follow each other in close formation, flying mere minutes apart. The A-Train orbits Earth about once every 100 minutes….

Image of the Glory satellite from NASA


roseseo said...

Great Job !!!!!!!!!!!!!
all the best for your future work.Solar pv

roseseo said...
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