NASA's Next Ozone Layer Instrument Arrives at Launch Site
Nov. 23, 2015 RELEASE: 15-062 NASA's Next Ozone Layer Instrument Arrives at Launch Site A NASA instrument to monitor aerosols, the ozone layer, and other gases in our atmosphere fr om space arrived Friday, Nov. 20 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The instrument will now begin final preparations for launch to the International Space Station. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III on the International Space Station, or SAGE III on ISS, was shipped to Florida from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The SAGE III instrument, developed at NASA Langley, will undergo final tests before being stowed aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of a NASA space station SpaceX resupply mission. That mission will be launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than June 2016. "It's an important time to add this SAGE III Earth observing instrument for studying atmospheric gases from orbit," said Mike Cisewski, SAGE III on ISS project manager. "The SAGE III data will help scientists get a better idea of the state of recovery in the ozone layer along with other key aerosol measurements that will provide further insight into the trends and processes influencing global climate change." The SAGE III instrument will be used primarily to study ozone, a gas found in the upper atmosphere that acts as Earth's sunscreen by blocking much of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. More than 30 years ago, scientists discovered that our planet's protective coat of ozone was thinning. Since then, NASA has orbited a series of increasingly sophisticated SAGE instruments to make accurate measurements of ozone amounts in the upper atmosphere. In 1975, the Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement on-orbit experiment was conducted as part of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The SAGE II instrument was launched aboard NASA's Earth Radiation Budget Satellite in October 1984 and collected measurements of stratospheric ozone until 2005. A NASA-supplied SAGE III instrument was launched on the Russian Meteor-3M spacecraft in December 2001 and ended service in March 2006. SAGE measurements have played a key role in monitoring the ozone recovery resulting from the 1987 Montreal Protocol's internationally mandated policy changes regulating production of chlorine-containing chemicals. The newest SAGE III Earth-observing instrument will be mounted on a Nadir Viewing Platform, which was also developed by NASA Langley, shipped to Kennedy Space Center in January 2015, and will be launched along with SAGE III in mid-2016. Once they arrive at the ISS, the Nadir Viewing Platform and SAGE III will be robotically installed on the space station's ExPress Logistics Carrier – an unpressurized payload platform – wh ere SAGE III will operate alongside experiments from other countries. The SAGE III instrument measures light intensities observed at the space station after passing through the Earth's atmosphere during sunsets, sunrises, moonsets and moonrises. As the ISS goes behind the Earth relative to the sun or moon, the instrument measures the dimming of the sunlight or moonlight caused by the Earth's atmosphere. This dimming, in turn, changes with changing atmospheric aerosol and ozone levels. By making these measurements, SAGE III will provide a long-term data record of key components of the Earth's atmosphere vital for improved understanding of climate change and ozone chemistry. SAGE III on ISS is a partnership between NASA Langley and the International Space Station Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, with support from the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Other mission partners include the Kennedy Space Center, Ball Aerospace Technologies Corp., the European Space Agency, Thales Alenia Space-Italy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; SpaceX; and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. For more information about SAGE III on ISS, visit: http://sage.nasa.gov NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet. For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow
Nov. 21 • Falcon 9 • SpaceX CRS 10 Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 12th Dragon spacecraft on the 10th operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Feb. 13, June 10 and Aug. 1. [April 24]
Nov. 11 • Falcon 9 • SpaceX CRS 10 Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 12th Dragon spacecraft on the 10th operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Feb. 13, June 10 and Aug. 1. Moved up from Nov. 21. [July 5]
Aug. 11, 2016 SAGE III to Look Back at Earth's Atmospheric 'Sunscreen’
By Bob Granath NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida On the upcoming SpaceX CRS-10 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), a Dragon spacecraft will deliver the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to further study ozone in the atmosphere. Once mounted on the space station, SAGE III will measure the Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere. SAGE will make its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere fr om that unique vantage point. During the late 1970s, scientists began tracking a steady decline of ozone in the Earth's stratosphere. It was determined this was caused by extensive use of human-produced chemicals. Following years of global efforts to significantly reduce the number of ozone-depleting substances, experts now are optimistic the ozone layer will recover. Launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket currently is scheduled for late fall this year. NASA has a team of specialists with decades of experience dedicated to Earth science research such as SAGE III. The fourth generation in a series of NASA Earth-observing instruments, SAGE III will be mounted on the space station where it will use the unique vantage point of low-Earth orbit to make long-term measurements of ozone, aerosols, water vapor and other gases in Earth's atmosphere.
Preparing for Launch
Since the instrument arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, engineers at the Florida spaceport have assisted SAGE team members fr om NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia in preparing it for launch. According to Rob Kuczajda, a Kennedy project manager in the ISS Utilization and Life Sciences Office, this SAGE III effort has been underway for several years. "Our role actually began back in September 2011," he said. "We sent a small delegation of engineers to Langley to meet with the SAGE team and learn about the payload. Our message was that Kennedy had years of expertise processing ISS payloads and that we were available to assist with SAGE III. Over the next four years, Kennedy engineers helped assemble and test parts of the payload." SAGE III now is being stored in the high bay of Kennedy's Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF), a world-class processing laboratory. Every American-launched element for construction of the ISS, all cargo and each experiment is prepared and checked out in the SSPF, a crucial part of a premier multi-user spaceport. . While space station construction is complete, the facility remains active where specialized ISS payloads continue to be processed and tested prior to launch. Because of the instrument's special optics, additional precautions during testing and processing were necessary. "We spent about a year designing and constructing a super-clean 'tent' in the SSPF high bay," Kuczajda said. "This is considered a Class '10K,' or 10,000, clean room. The designation signifies that there are less than 10,000 particles greater than half-micron in size in any cubic foot of air – that’s about 150 times cleaner than the air in the average living room." The special care and testing will ensure SAGE III is ready for its crucial role of studying the Earth.
The Ozone Hole
The highest levels of ozone in the atmosphere are in the stratosphere, a region also known as the ozone layer from about 6 to 31 miles above the Earth's surface. Ozone depletion has included larger springtime decreases in stratospheric ozone around Earth's polar regions, often referred to as the "ozone hole." "When scientists realized there was a hole in the ozone layer," Kuczajda said, "it was determined that man-made chemicals were rapidly depleting ozone in the parts of the atmosphere that protect us from the harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun." After the discovery, worldwide concern grew because the unabsorbed portion of UV rays passing through the ozone layer causes sunburns in humans, as well as direct DNA damage in living tissues in both plants and animals. Scientists determined the primary cause of ozone depletion was extensive use of chlorofluorocarbons employed as refrigerants, solvents and propellants in aerosol sprays. To better understand this phenomena, SAGE was first flown during 1979 as a follow-up to the Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement, or SAM, on the July 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission. SAGE II was a part of the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, or ERBS, deployed by the crew of space shuttle Challenger in 1984. The SAGE III designed for the ISS is almost a duplicate of one launched in 2001 on a Russian Meteor-3M satellite. On Sept. 16, 1987, an international treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol, was signed by most nations of the world. The agreement called for phasing out production of many of the substances that were responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty has been in force since Jan. 1, 1989. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific organization under the auspices of the United Nations, announced in 2005 that their observations of the stratosphere showed that the global amount of ozone is stabilizing. The IPCC study indicates that the atmosphere layer is expected to begin to recover in coming decades if the ban on ozone-depleting substances continues. "It will be good to know that the efforts we are taking here, with the science community and across the globe, are actually improving and getting the ozone layer back to wh ere it was 60 years ago," said Randy Wade, support manager of off-line labs in Kennedy's Exploration Research and Technology Programs Directorate.
Testing and Teamwork
To ensure SAGE III will be ready to go to work once it arrives at the ISS, extensive checkouts have been taking place in the special processing area of the SSPF. "The processing has included functional testing on the payload, to verify everything is operating correctly after shipment of the payload from Langley to Florida," Kuczajda said. Jennifer Wahlberg, also a Kennedy utilization project manager, has played a key role in helping coordinate the Langley team’s testing. "We have been assisting the SAGE III team from Langley with our ISS simulators," she said. "They have performed command and data handling checkouts to make sure everything is going to transmit the data correctly, that commands go up and data can come down." Wahlberg explains that most of the SAGE III checkouts have been completed for the time being. "They have done as much as they can so far," she said. "About two months from launch, the SAGE III team from Langley will return to Kennedy for their final checkouts and tests." Kuczajda pointed out that after the SAGE III team returns in September and hardware inspections are complete, the instrument will go back into the shipping container. "The Kennedy Logistics team will deliver the instrument to the SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station wh ere it will be prepared for flight aboard the Dragon spacecraft," he said. Wahlberg had high praise for the team from Langley. "It's been great to work with the SAGE III team for the past several years," she said. "It's really amazing to see how many people can work together to bring successful science to bear." “And the feeling is mutual,” said Mike Cisewski, SAGE III/ISS project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center. "Support from the KSC team has been exemplary through our payload development and processing at KSC. From logistics, to assembly of portions of our Nadir Viewing Platform and vibration testing fixture, for outstanding support at the Space Station Processing Facility, they have been great partners.” Once SAGE III is installed on the ISS, Wade is hoping the instrument sends back data that the ozone layer is improving. "I've seen a lot of changes in fluorocarbon use," he said. "We've done a lot of things here at the Kennedy Space Center to reduce the use of fluorocarbons, and automobile cooling systems have changed. So they are going to try to verify if those efforts made on Earth have helped improve the ozone layer." Wahlberg sees long-term benefits in the SAGE III research. "I wish all the payload teams and the science teams great success," she said. "I know they are doing important work for our future generations."
NASA engineer Chip Holloway waits for the sun to align with the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, or SAGE, III instrument during a clean room "sun-look" test on March 4, 2013, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. SAGE III passed this test, successfully locking onto the sun and completing a series of measurements. SAGE III will measure aerosols, ozone, water vapor and other gases to help scientists better understand levels of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere. Credits: NASA Langley/Sean Smith
In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, operations are underway to close out processing of NASA's Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III, or SAGE, III instrument. On May 16, 2016, an engineer is working in a super-clean 'tent' built in the SSPF high bay to protect SAGE III’s special optics. The class '10K,' or 10,000, clean room provides an environment in which there is less than 10,000 particles of less than a half micron inside. That’s about 150 times cleaner than the air in the average living room. Credits: NASA/Charles Babir
On May 16, 2016, operations are underway to closeout processing of the agency's Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III, or SAGE III, instrument. Since December 2015, engineers and technicians have prepared the device for its launch to the International Space Station later this year aboard a Dragon spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credits: NASA/Charles Babir
NASA's Aura satellite observed the most severe ozone hole over Antarctica in 2006. The severity of the ozone hole resulted from the high ozone-depleting substance levels and the record cold conditions in the stratosphere over the South Pole. Aura is dedicated to understanding the changing chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere. Credits: NASA
To better understand this ozone depletion in the stratosphere, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, or SAGE, II instrument was part of the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, or ERBS, deployed by the crew of space shuttle Challenger in 1984. Credits: NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Lockheed Corporation
SpaceX targeting launch from KSC as soon as Nov. 17 James Dean, FLORIDA TODAY 11:23 a.m. EDT September 29, 2016
SpaceX has circled Nov. 17 as a tentative date for its next launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, on a mission that would launch International Space Station supplies from Kennedy Space Center. The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing last week approved the date for planning purposes, Space Florida officials said Wednesday during a board meeting in Orlando. “We’re happy to see them continue to move towards the goal of getting back into spaceflight,” said Jim Kuzma, Space Florida’s operations chief. Don’t invite your friends and relatives to visit for the launch just yet, though. Despite publicly saying that it hopes to launch in the “November timeframe,” SpaceX has not completed its investigation into why a Falcon 9 exploded on its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station pad during a countdown rehearsal on Sept. 1. NASA has no official launch date for the mission, SpaceX’s 10th under an ISS resupply contract, according to a spokesman. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday, after unveiling a concept for colonizing Mars at a space conference in Mexico, that he was not distracted from the investigation. “It would be incorrect to say that it is anything other than our absolute top priority to understand exactly what went wrong there and what we can do to prevent anything like that in the future,” he told reporters at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
I am working on some CRS-10 payloads. We were given the January launch date before the RUD, and are still operating under the assumption that CRS-10 will launch in January. However, that frequently will change last minute for us.