David E. Steitz
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Kennedy Space Center
Jan. 25, 2003
NASA's SORCE Satellite Soars into Space to Catch Some Rays
NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) successfully launched today aboard a Pegasus XL rocket over the Atlantic Ocean. Dropped from the wing of a L-1011 carrier aircraft at 3:14 p.m. EST, separation of the spacecraft from the rocket occurred 10 minutes and 46 seconds after launch at about 3:24 p.m. Initial contact with the satellite was made seven seconds after separation via a NASA communications satellite network.
"Today's successful launch adds to our constellation of Earth-viewing satellites that help us to understand and protect our home planet," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA's Associate Administrator for Earth Sciences, Washington.
"We are all tremendously excited by what we will learn about the solar climate connection from SORCE," said Bill Ochs, SORCE Project Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We're very proud of the mission team led by the University of Colorado and supported by Orbital Sciences Corporation. This mission is a great example of how NASA, universities, and industry can partner together to create successful science missions."
Over the next few days, the mission team will insure that the spacecraft is functioning properly. The SORCE science instruments will then be turned on and their health verified. Approximately 21 days after launch, if all is going well, the instruments will start initial science data collection and calibration will begin. The spacecraft will study the Sun's influence on our Earth and will measure from space how the Sun affects the Earth's ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, clouds, and oceans.
This mission is a joint partnership between NASA and the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado. The mission is a principal investigator led mission with NASA providing management and scientific oversight and engineering support.
Scientists and engineers at the University of Colorado designed, built, calibrated, and tested the four science instruments on the spacecraft. The University subcontracted with Orbital Sciences Corporation for the spacecraft and observatory integration and testing. The Mission Operations Center and the Science Operations Center are both operated at the University. The University will operate the spacecraft over its five-year mission life and is responsible for the acquisition, management, processing, and distribution of the science data.
For more information about the this mission to explore Earth's climate please see: http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce.
For more information about NASA's Earth Science Enterprise and its role in climate change research please see: http://www.earth.nasa.gov.
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