Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) - 10.08.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) investigation observes Earth's middle and lower atmosphere from space, measuring the ozone layer and atmospheric gases. SAGE III-ISS uses atmospheric occultation, a method of measuring light transmitted through the atmosphere as the sun or moon rises or sets. The unique vantage point of the ISS allows researchers to monitor and better understand the long-term changes of Earth's atmosphere.

Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Joseph M. Zawodny, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Joseph M. Zawodny, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
    Information Pending
    Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, CO, United States

    European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, , Netherlands

    Thales Alenia Space - Italia, HQ, Rome, , Italy

    Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

    Research Benefits
    Scientific Discovery, Earth Benefits

    ISS Expedition Duration

    Expeditions Assigned
    Information Pending

    Previous ISS Missions
    The Stratopsheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III) is a fourth-generation satellite instrument designed to observe the long-term health of the upper atmosphere. Managed by NASA Langley Research Center, SAGE III was a collaboration between NASA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (RASA) launched aboard a Russian Meteor 3M spacecraft in December 2001 for a three-year mission. This investigation invigorated and extended a long-term working relationship between the United States and Russia towards a greater understanding of Earth.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III - ISS (SAGE III-ISS) is among the early NASA investigations and payloads sent to the ISS on the SpaceX Falcon-9/Dragon commercial launch vehicle.

    • SAGE III-ISS is the first instrument to measure the composition of the middle and lower atmosphere from the ISS. The orbit of the ISS provides a perfect vantage point from which to acquire measurements of this region of the atmosphere.

    • The SAGE program, in all, has a long heritage and is one of NASA's longest running Earth-observing programs. Scientifically this is significant because, continuous, long-term collection of this variety of data and information is necessary in order to understand climate change.


    SAGE III's role is to provide global, long-term measurements of key components of the Earth's atmosphere. The most important of these are the vertical distribution of aerosols and ozone from the upper troposphere through the stratosphere. In addition, SAGE III also provides unique measurements of temperature in the stratosphere and mesosphere and profiles of trace gases such as water vapor and nitrogen dioxide that play significant roles in atmospheric radiative and chemical processes.

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    Space Applications

    The SAGE-III-ISS investigation includes external sensors and observation equipment that could be used for future Earth-observing missions. Studying the sensors’ longevity in the harsh environment of space can provide insight for next-generation systems. SAGE-III-ISS is also the first instrument to measure the middle and lower atmosphere from the International Space Station, which orbits in an ideal path for observing this region.

    Earth Applications

    Human activities are changing the Earth and its atmosphere, causing a rise in global average temperatures during the past few decades. Other observations reveal changing concentrations of greenhouse gases and thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Scientists do not yet understand how these changes are affecting the climate. Accurate, long-term measurements such as those provided with SAGE III-ISS are crucial for understanding the processes controlling climate change.

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    Operational Requirements

    • SAGE III Health and Status check
    • ISS operational status check
    • Data dump from onboard recorder (data from science, CMP and DMP)
    • Data flow planning with SPOC/POIC
    • Weekly activities:
    • Prepare next week’s commands for IP
    • Upload commands via SPOC to POIC

    Operational Protocols

    • The SAGE III/ISS investigation launches installed on two ExPAs inside the SpaceX Dragon trunk.
    • It is transferred from the Dragon Trunk attached to a Passive Flight Releasable Attachment Mechanism (FRAM) Adapter Plate 3 (PFAP 3).
    • SAGE III/ISS is installed to the ELC4 site (ISS starboard nadir) via the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS).   No crew involvement is required.
    • The SAGE III/ISS investigation is then mounted on a preinstalled Nadir Viewing Platform (NVP) that provides the required interface and structure.
      • This move requires the use of the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) and temporary stowage on the SPDM's Enhanced ORU Temporary Platform (EOTP) FRAM Site.

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    Results/More Information

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    Related Websites
    Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III - International Space Station

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    SAGE III-ISS Instrument Pallet Overview.

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    SAGE III-ISS external location at ELC-4 on ISS.

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