Artist's impression of Glory orbiting Earth.
|Mission type||Climate research|
|Operator||NASA / GSFC|
|Mission duration||Failed to orbit
3–5 years planned
|Launch mass||545 kilograms (1,202 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||4 March 2011, 10:09:43UTC|
|Rocket||Taurus XL 3110|
|Launch site||Vandenberg LC-576E|
The Glory satellite was a planned NASA satellite mission that would have collected data on the chemical, micro-physical and optical properties—and the spatial and temporal distributions—of sulfate and other aerosols, and would have collected solar irradiance data for the long-term climate record. The science focus areas served by Glory included: atmospheric composition; carbon cycle, ecosystems, and biogeochemistry; climate variability and change; and water and energy cycles. The US$424 million satellite was lost on March 4, 2011, when its Taurus XL carrier rocket malfunctioned. A subsequent investigation revealed that the fairing system failed to open fully, causing the satellite to reenter the atmosphere at which point it likely broke up and burned.
The launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc, California, aboard a Taurus XL rocket was originally planned for February 23, 2011. It was postponed due to a malfunction in ground support equipment. The next liftoff attempt was March 4, 2011. The Taurus rocket also carried three small CubeSat satellites built by university students in Montana, Colorado and Kentucky, the NASA ELaNa I manifest.
The launch took place on March 4, 2011, at 2:09:43 am Pacific Standard Time (10:09:43 UTC) from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Taurus XL rocket's first three stages functioned as planned, but the nose cone (also known as the payload fairing) failed to separate 2 minutes 58 seconds after the launch. The nose cone covers and protects the satellite during launch and ascent, and is designed to separate and fall away shortly after the launch. Due to the failure of the nose cone to separate, the rocket remained too heavy to reach the correct orbit. According to launch director Omar Baez, the satellite and launcher likely crashed in the southern Pacific Ocean. The failure was estimated to have cost at least $424 million. This only includes the cost of the satellite itself, and not the cost of the launcher and launch services. During the previous failed Taurus XL launch, the vehicle and services were estimated to have cost $54m.
The previous Taurus XL launch with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) in February 2009 also ended in a failure due to failed payload fairing separation. Following the failed OCO mission, Taurus XL launches were put on hold for two years as the rocket's manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation tried to fix the payload fairing separation problem, obviously without success. A British OCO scientist said the loss of Glory was a great blow to the NASA Earth science program, especially since the reason for the launch failure was the same as with OCO.
During a news conference shortly after the launch, Rich Straka from Orbital Sciences Corporation said his company was investigating the failure, noting, "there really isn't enough data to say anything more than the fairing didn't separate."
|Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS)|
|The Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) is a continuous scanning sensor that has the capability to collect visible, near infrared, and short-wave infrared data scattered from aerosols and clouds. It is designed to make multi-angle observations of Earth and atmospheric scene spectral polarization and radiance.
|The cloud camera is a high-spatial-resolution two-band radiometer intended to facilitate the identification of cloudcontaminated APS pixels and to determine the fraction of the pixel area occupied by clouds. Over ocean, the cloud camera is used to determine aerosol load and fine mode fraction based on the aerosol microphysical model determined from APS measurements. The Cloud Camera is not a separate instrument, rather it is used to identify clouds in the APS nadir pixel.|
|Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM)|
|The Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) is an active cavity radiometer that records total solar irradiance. It has four identical radiometers to provide redundancy and to help detect changes in the instrument from exposure to solar radiation. TIM is mounted on a platform that moves the instrument independent of the spacecraft.|
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