Know Your Earth 3.0: SAGE III
About Brooke Anderson Thornton
It was in Mrs. Crockrell's middle school science class in Gig Harbor, Wash., that Brooke Thornton first considered a career in science. A combination of Mrs. Cockrell's own enthusiasm and love of science and the fun hands on projects got Thornton excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
From there she joined the Astronomy Club at Gig Harbor High School and built kites and hot air balloons in aerospace class, unknowingly preparing for her future work on NASA missions.
After high school Thornton went on to attend Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., where she studied physics and astronomy, furthering her efforts to eventually work as a scientist or engineer.
Brooke Thornton first joined NASA in 1999 as a graduate student. She earned her master's degree in mechanical engineering through the Joint Institute for Advancement of Flight Sciences, a cooperative between George Washington University and NASA Langley Research Center. She started out performing ionized space radiation analyses for astronauts and vehicles and even received the Silver Snoopy Award for radiation analysis on the astronauts' space suits. Since then she has gone on to perform orbital analysis for a variety of proposals and projects and work on thermal analysis for flight projects.
Now, after 12 years, she has obtained one of her career goals of managing operations for a NASA mission. Thornton is the SAGE III on ISS Mission Operations Manager, which is an instrument to study ozone and atmospheric particles from the International Space Station (ISS). While the instrument is being finalized for launch, Thornton is planning daily operations for the mission. Once it's launched and operational, Thornton will lead the team to monitor the health of the SAGE III on ISS instrument.
Making sure operations run smoothly is essential to getting more science data and ensuring the data that is collected is the most accurate. More accurate data helps us better understand and care for Earth's atmosphere.
About SAGE II on ISS
SAGE III on ISS is an instrument to study ozone and atmospheric particles, called aerosols, from the International Space Station beginning in late 2014. SAGE III on ISS, which stands for Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, is part of a long legacy of space-based instruments that have studied ozone, a gas found in the upper atmosphere that acts as Earth's sunscreen. More than 25 years ago, scientists realized there was a problem with Earth's thin, protective coat of ozone...it was thinning. The SAGE family of instruments was pivotal in making accurate measurements of the amount of ozone loss in Earth's atmosphere. SAGE instruments have also played a key role in measuring the onset of ozone recovery resulting from the internationally mandated policy changes that regulated chlorine-containing chemicals, the Montreal Protocol, which was passed in 1987. Today, the SAGE technique is still the best for the job, and NASA scientists are preparing to send the third generation of the instrument into space. SAGE III on ISS will be launched on a commercial launch vehicle in late 2014 and will go where no continuous Earth-observing instrument has gone before – the International Space Station (ISS). SAGE III will be robotically mounted on the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier on the International Space Station where it will operate alongside experiments from all over the world in the space-based laboratory. The orbital path of ISS will help maximize the scientific value of SAGE-III observations while proving that atmospheric science instruments do have a place on the space station.
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