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Glory and Aquarius--NASA's Two New Climate Sentinels:
Workshop for Science Writers
12.14.10
 
Glory:
› Powerpoint of briefing
› Science FAQs
› Fact sheet
› Spacecraft illustration 1 (print quality)
› Spacecraft illustration 2 (print quality)
› Spacecraft illustration 3 (print quality)
› Media resources
› Mission brochure
› HD animations and video clips
› Aerosol science fact sheet
› Additional information

Aquarius:
› Powerpoint of briefing
› Educational resources
› Image gallery
› Oceanography article
› The Oceanography Society website
› Aquarius poster
› Contact information
› Aquarius litho
› Additional information
NASA plans to launch two new spacecraft in 2011 to expand our understanding of Earth's climate. Glory, set to launch no earlier than February, will study the roles of two critical elements of Earth's climate system: the sun's total solar irradiance and atmospheric airborne particles called aerosols. Both solar irradiance and aerosols have significant direct and indirect effects on Earth's climate, and the two instruments on Glory will provide new insights into these complex processes. Then in June, NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina, ComisiĆ³n Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), will jointly launch the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D mission to make NASA's first space-based measurements of how the concentration of dissolved salt varies across Earth's ocean surface. This information will offer new insights into ocean circulation, the global water cycle and climate. During this science reporter/writers' workshop, scientists from both missions will help reporters better understand the fundamental processes both spacecraft will study and how they are linked to Earth's climate. They will also provide helpful background on the individual mission concepts, instruments and measurement approaches.

Participants:
Michael Mishchenko
Glory Project Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA;

Greg Kopp
Glory Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) Instrument Scientist, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA;

Gary Lagerloef
Aquarius Principal Investigator, Earth & Space Research, Seattle, Wash., USA;

Yi Chao
Aquarius Project Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., USA



Glory

Glory Spacecraft › View animation

This animation shows the Glory satellite and its instruments, the Earth-pointing Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) and the sun-pointing Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM). Credit: NASA



a fleet of Earth observing satellites known as the Afternoon Constellation, which together offer a more cohesive and detailed picture of the Earth's biosphere and climate › Larger view

Glory will join a fleet of Earth observing satellites known as the Afternoon Constellation, or "A-Train", which together offer a more cohesive and detailed picture of the Earth's biosphere and climate. Credit:NASA





Aquarius

Artist concept of Aquarius › Larger view

Artists rendering of the Aquarius/SAC-D satellite as it would appear in orbit. The Aquarius mission will study the interactions between changes in the ocean circulation, global water cycle and climate by measuring ocean surface salinity.



Aquarius Animation › View animation

Artist's rendering of the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D spacecraft in orbit. A joint mission of NASA and Argentina's ComisiĆ³n Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), Aquarius/SAC-D is scheduled for launch in June 2011. NASA's Aquarius, the primary instrument, will make NASA's first space-based measurements of how the concentration of dissolved salt varies across Earth's ocean surface. This information will offer new insights into ocean circulation, the global water cycle and climate. Image credit: NASA GSFC



Aquarius ocean conveyor belt animation › View animation

The ocean is mostly composed of warm salty water near the surface over cold, less salty water in the ocean depths. These two regions don't mix except in certain special areas. The ocean currents, the movement of the ocean in the surface layer, are driven mostly by the wind. In certain areas near the polar oceans, the colder surface water also gets saltier due to evaporation or sea ice formation. In these regions, the surface water becomes dense enough to sink to the ocean depths. This pumping of surface water into the deep ocean forces the deep water to move horizontally until it can find an area on the world where it can rise back to the surface and close the current loop. This usually occurs in the equatorial ocean, mostly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This very large, slow current is called the thermohaline circulation because it is caused by temperature and salinity (haline) variations.

This animation first depicts thermohaline surface flows over surface density, and illustrates the sinking of water in the dense ocean near Iceland and Greenland. The surface of the ocean then fades away and the animation pulls back to show the global thermohaline circulation. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio



Mean salinity map › Larger view

A map of the surface salinity of the ocean averaged from historical ship and buoy observations through 2005, with lowest values colored blue (32 practical salinity units, or psu) and the highest colored red (37 psu). Aquarius will collect as many observations during the first few months of the mission as all the historical measurements until now. [1 psu is equivalent to one gram of dissolved salt in a kilogram of seawater.]



Salinity comparison chart › Larger view

At upper left is a high-resolution false color salinity map on the northwest Atlantic produced from an ocean model. At upper right is the same image as will be observed by the Aquarius 150 kilometer spatial footprint can resolve. At lower left is the difference between the upper left and right images, showing some fine details that Aquarius will not resolve. In comparison, at lower right is the sample density from existing ocean buoys.