Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) - 06.27.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) is a key part of NASA’s mission to provide crucial, long-term measurements of that will help humans understand and care for Earth’s atmosphere. SAGE III measures Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere. SAGE makes its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere from the unique vantage point of the International Space Station (ISS) which helps maximize the scientific value of SAGE III observations.
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

Information Pending

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, CO, United States
European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, Netherlands
Thales Alenia Space - Italia, HQ, Rome, Italy
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research-SMD

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - August 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
SAGE was operated first in 1979 following a proof-of-concept experiment call the Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement, or SAM, on the Apollo-Soyuz mission. SAGE II operated and produced data for more than 21 years. SAGE III consists of three instruments. The first SAGE III was launched in 2001 on a Russian satellite, Meteor-3M. The second SAGE III was safely stored away, awaiting a ride to the space station. The third SAGE III remains in storage for a future flight of opportunity.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) is among the early NASA Earth investigations and payloads sent to the space station to measure the composition of the middle and lower atmosphere. The orbit provides a unique vantage point for making ozone and aerosol measurements.
  • The SAGE program has a long heritage and is one of NASA's longest running Earth-observing programs, providing continuous, long-term data to help understand Earth’s atmosphere. The data from SAGE II was integral to confirming human-driven changes to ozone, and thus contributed to the 1987 Montreal Protocol that banned certain harmful chemicals. SAGE II also saw ozone stopped decreasing in response to this action.
  • SAGE III-ISS is launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon Vehicle, and transferred from the Dragon Spacecraft Trunk via robotic arm. The project has many partners both within NASA and with private companies in the United States and internationally.

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
External observation systems and sensors such as those included with the SAGE III-ISS investigation have the potential to provide future designers and engineers with important information regarding component longevity for systems operated in the external space environment.

Earth Applications
The goal of SAGE III-ISS is to measure stratospheric ozone, aerosols, and other trace gases. These measurements enhance our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere and enables national and international leaders to make informed policy decisions. When ozone breaks down all of Earth’s inhabitants are affected. Humans, plants, and animals are exposed to more harmful rays from the sun, which can cause long-term problems like cataracts and cancer in humans and reduced crop yield.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

SAGE III operations are highly autonomous with the Instrument Payload performing most of the event planning and execution of the science measurements.  The Instrument Payload uses the Broadcast Ancillary Data to determine when the next science event will occur, and where to point the instrument.  SAGE III generates approximately 1.8 GB of data per day, including Health and Status telemetry.  Data is stored on a Solid State Memory Card, and downlinked on a daily basis through the ISS communications systems.  Planning and uploading of commands is performed on a weekly basis.  Overall SAGE III operations, including development of commands and coordination with POIC, is performed at the SAGE III Payload Operations Center at Langley Research Center in Virginia.

  • The SAGE III-ISS investigation launches on two separate EXPRESS Pallet Adapters (ExPAs) inside the SpaceX Dragon trunk.
  • SAGE III-ISS is assembled at the ELC-4 site (ISS starboard nadir) via the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS).  No crew involvement is required.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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image SAGE Nadir View Platform during integration
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image SAGE Instrument Payload
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image SAGE Nadir View Platform
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image SAGE Science Measurements
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image SAGE Instrument Assembly during testing
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NASA Image: JSC2016E013816 - SAGE-III Instrument Payload Integrated on EXPRESS Pallet Adapter (ExPA) After Final Sharp Edge Inspection. View taken for Space-X 10 mission.

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