NASA's Glory mission fails to reach orbit (photos)
Glory will join the Afternoon Constellation
The captions that follow were written in expectation of a successful launch. They've been edited somewhat to reflect Glory's unsuccessful launch.
The satellite Glory was to be part of a NASA mission to enhance the agency's modeling of the Earth's climate and reduce uncertainties about the causes and consequences of climate change. Among other things, the craft was intended to offer look at how aerosols affect climate. It will also help maintain a record of total solar irradiance.
Aerosols and solar energy influence the total amount of energy entering and exiting the Earth's atmosphere. Maintaining accurate measurements is important in anticipating future changes to our climate and how they may affect life.
Joining Aqua, CloudSat, CALIPSO, and Aura, all depicted here, Glory would have been the 5th Earth observation satellite in the Afternoon Constellation data-collection cluster in sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 690 kilometers.
The Glory spacecraft arrives
Engineers Unpack Glory
Manufactured by Raytheaon, the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) was sent to the Orbital Sciences' facilities in Dulles, Va., where it was integrated with the spacecraft before the unit was sent to Vandenberg for launch.
Raytheon's APS is the only instrument able to distinguish between the various aerosols in Earth's atmosphere and measure them accurately from space. It was intended to measure reflected sunlight that traverses Earth's atmosphere and interacts with aerosols.
Many shades of aerosols
Configuring Glory's fueling equipment and control propellants
The Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor
The atmosphere is filled with natural and man-made particulate, which affects global temperatures, but according to NASA scientists, these substances represent the largest uncertainty regarding climate change.
"Since black carbon aerosols generally contribute to warming, and sulfate aerosols to cooling, the concentrations of these aerosols and others must be determined to ensure accurate climate modeling." says Bill Hart, vice president, Space Systems.
With 161 optical elements, including six telescopes that will analyze light of varying wavelengths, the APS would have made measurements from multiple viewing angles in multiple spectral bands.
Temporary processing tent
First stage motor
Here, the first stage motor for the Glory spacecraft's Taurus XL rocket waits to be moved inside.
On Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base
A portion of the launch tower is attached to the upper portion of the rocket, and falls away from the spacecraft during liftoff.
Glory's Total Irradiance Monitor
The Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) was supposed to point toward the sun and continue a 32-year data record of the sun's total solar irradiance (TSI), giving NASA scientists an uninterrupted, multidecade look at atmospheric temperature.
Over the past century, the average temperature at the Earth's surface has increased by approximately 0.5 degrees Celsius.
NASA says determining what portion of this increase and the concomitant climate change is due to natural events and anthropogenic sources is of primary importance to the establishment of scientifically and economically effective policy.
Taurus XL rocket
The seven Earth observation satellites
It was to join the Afternoon Constellation or "A-train" of polar-orbiting satellites, a group that includes the Aqua and Aura satellites.
Joining Aqua, CloudSat, CALIPSO, and Aura, Glory would have been the 5th Earth observation satellite in the Afternoon Constellation cluster in the sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 690 kilometers.
The satellites are spaced a few minutes apart from each other, enabling their collective observations to be used to build data-rich, high-definition, three-dimensional images of the Earth's atmosphere and surface.