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NASA Launches Aura Satellite

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the holey-moley dept.

Space 20

ukcollin writes "NASA successfully launched the Aura satellite today after several previous failed attempts. The Aura satellite was launched by a 12-story Delta 2 rocket, at 6:01am (EST) from Vandenberg AFB in California. The satellite is reported to have cost in excess of $785 million dollars, and its main mission will be to study the Earth's ozone to try and determine if the ozone hole is shrinking or increasing. Although it will be focused on the stratosphere (the ozone layer), it will also be tracking pollution, climate changes, etc. by scanning and analyzing each of Earth's atmospheric levels all the way down to the troposphere."

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19 min till first post? (3, Insightful)

Retric (704075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9710274)

I guess nobody cares how the ozone doing? Or perhaps $785 million is not what it used to be.

Or maybe launching something into space is not a big deal and even if people are willing to debate the results of science even though they don't care about the people / things that carry it out. PS: 19 min till first post?

Re:19 min till first post? (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711185)


It's just that Slashdotters don't need any evidence or proof of what's happening with the atmosphere.

They're already dead-certain that the atmosphere isn't changing and, even if it is, we're not causing the changes and, even if we are, we've just become the hand of nature/God and therefore the changes are natural/divine.

No satellite proof is needed so the satellite is redundant as is the story. "Nothing to see here. Move along," they would say -- before being killed at the next zebra crossing.

Re:19 min till first post? (1)

shiwala (93327) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711275)

I guess nobody cares how the ozone doing?

The ozone layer...isn't that outside? Slashdotters spend most of their time inside, hence nothing to worry about! :)

A little irony (4, Interesting)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9710441)

The Delta 2 rocket is the third most atmospheric polluting rocket currently being used in the world (behind the Space Shuttle and Titan 4s). Every launch creates a mini hole in the ozone layer due to emissions from the solid fuel rockets spewing out hydrogen chloride and aluminum oxide.

Re:A little irony (2, Interesting)

Xentax (201517) | more than 10 years ago | (#9710999)

Um, not that I automatically disbelieve you or anything, but could you elaborate and/or cite some sources?

The shuttle SRBs separate pretty early in the launch process - I wouldn't think any of their exhaust would be high enough off the ground to make it to the ozone layer.

Let's not forget the scale, either -- even the shuttle pales in comparison to, say, the amount of CFCs put into the atmosphere (and I mean up where it counts) by volcanic eruptions (though I haven't done the math on amount per eruption and eruption rate vs. the amount and rate of rocket launches).

I'm not saying you're wrong, I just want some real data on how solid rockets are impacting the ozone layer, given their launch profile.

Xentax

Re:A little irony (3, Informative)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711254)

Um, not that I automatically disbelieve you or anything, but could you elaborate and/or cite some sources?

Here is an article. [aero.org]

Please note that I made no claim to the amount of ozone a single rocket launch depletes, it is fairly small. But rockets do destroy ozone, lots of rockets are launched every year, and the number of launches is undoubtedly going to increase as time goes on.

Re:A little irony (1)

Xentax (201517) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711373)

Good stuff, thanks.

It sounds like we'll want to favor liquid-fuel over solid when possible, which most folks already were thinking already. That's good news.

And, of course, air-release solutions that break the problem up (a big turbojet to get you to ~50,000 feet and thus less fuel to burn to get X tons to orbit) should be better in this department than from-ground solutions.

Xentax

Re:A little irony (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9713640)

Rocket engine exhaust contains chemical compounds that react with ozone in the stratosphere. A new measurement program suggests that current space transportation activities only minimally affect Earth's protective ozone layer.

The above test is in BOLD at the top of the page you linked to. Perhaps you overstate the case?

Re:A little irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9717940)

Perhaps you overstate the case?

Perhaps you didn't read my post.

Re:A little irony (2, Interesting)

shiwala (93327) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711216)

The Delta 2 rocket is the third most atmospheric polluting rocket currently being used in the world (behind the Space Shuttle and Titan 4s). Every launch creates a mini hole in the ozone layer due to emissions from the solid fuel rockets spewing out hydrogen chloride and aluminum oxide.

Interesting...I had never given that much thought until now. For anyone else who's interested, here's more info on rocket emissions [aero.org] .

tis where I work (2, Insightful)

boarder (41071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9711354)

In some of the replies to this post, you and others have cited stories by the Aerospace Corp (aero.org). This happens to be where I work and they took us on a tour of the labs researching exactly what you are talking about.

The Air Force is extremely concerned about the pollution by their rockets. The EELV program (the new launch vehicles by Lockheed and Boeing, Atlas V and Delta IV) now has emissions as one of its factors when they finally decide on the rocket to use. Side note: the USAF originally wanted both rockets to launch and compete against each other, but now Congress wants them to decide on only one rocket. Someone is going to be hurt badly by this: either Lockheed, Boeing or the taxpayer.

I can't say which (delta or atlas) pollutes more (I'm probably not allowed to say, either), but I know the issue is being researched.

Editorial tip (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9711327)

"[I]ts main mission will be to study the Earth's ozone to try and determine if the ozone hole is shrinking or increasing."

It's going to both "try" and it is definitely going to "determine," so why expend the effort in trying? Just do it.

Laser printer and photocopy the planet to safety (5, Funny)

Andy Mitchell (780458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9712326)

It just occured to be that as laser printers and photcopiers generate ozone, if we all just print more stuff on paper made from sustainable forestry we will have all the ozone we need and remove surplus CO2 from the atmosphere :-)

Now, before anyone takes me too seriously and prints a copy of every RFC ever written "to save the planet", this doesn't really work. For a start ozone at low altitude is just a toxic gas that will not help protect us from UV....

Re:Laser printer and photocopy the planet to safet (1)

eingram (633624) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714106)

The Tesla coil where I work produces ozone. I have no problem running that thing all. day. long.

Re:Laser printer and photocopy the planet to safet (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 10 years ago | (#9751534)

Whoah! Where do you work that you have a Tesla coil?!?!?! Is it actually used for your work, or is it just for fun?

"try _to_", not "try _and_" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9713431)

to try and determine if the ozone hole is shrinking or increasing.

That should be "to try to determine...". This is a common error.

'Take the A-Train', from NASA (1)

rpiquepa (644694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714417)

Even if Aura has an important mission, it is only one of the six satellites that will fly close to each other by 2006. Here is the introduction of a post on my blog [weblogs.com] , which contains pictures and missions of all these satellites.
The "A-Train" satellite formation consists of six satellites flying in close proximity in a near future. The first one, Aqua, was launched in 2002. The second one, Aura, will be launched in June 2004, while CloudSAT, CALIPSO and PARABOL will start their missions in October 2004. The last one, OCO, will join them in 2006. The satellites will cross the equator within a few minutes of one another at around 1:30 p.m. local time. By combining the different sets of observations, scientists will be able to gain a better understanding of important parameters related to climate change.

Re:'Take the A-Train', from NASA (2, Informative)

maddog42 (208510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715753)

The first A-train satellite was Terra, launched in 2001. It and Aqua have similar sensor suites, geared towards terrestrial surface observation, whereas Aura carries no imaging (visible or near-ir) sensors. The biggest problem with having so many birds so close together in the time domain is that it's very difficult - without large expenditures - to track more than one at a time. As it is, Aura will conflict with Aqua (1330-1400 GMT ascending nodes). Fortunately, unless you're working in a heavily interdisciplinary environment, you will probably only need to track one of the two.

Re:'Take the A-Train', from NASA, redux (1)

maddog42 (208510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9729351)

I'd just like to correct a mis-statement I made in my previous post-
Terra is not considered as part of the "A-Train" concept/constellation. It is the first satellite of the EOS Terra-Aqua-Aura trio, however, so there is a degree of overlap with the A-train. Its ascending node is at approx 1030L, as opposed to the afternoon ascendancy of the A-train components.
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