Aqua on the Launch Pad
NASA's Aqua Satellite Celebrates 10th Anniversary
The Aqua satellite mission has proved to be a major component of the Earth Observing System (EOS) for its ability to gather unprecedented amounts of information on Earth’s water cycle, including measurements on water vapor, clouds, precipitation, ice, and snow. Aqua data has helped improve weather prediction, detection of forest fires, volcanic ash, and sandstorms. In addition, Aqua data have been used to detect and monitor such greenhouse gases as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane, and to examine the energy imbalance at the top of the Earth's atmosphere and the various components of it. With these uses of Aqua data, scientists have been able to better understand our Earth over the course of the past ten years.
Aqua is a major international Earth Science satellite mission centered at NASA. Launched on May 4, 2002, the satellite has six different Earth-observing instruments on board and is named for the large amount of information being obtained about water in the Earth system from its stream of approximately 89 Gigabytes of data a day. The water variables being measured include almost all elements of the water cycle and involve water in its liquid, solid, and vapor forms. Additional variables being measured include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures.
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VANDENBERG AFB, CALIF. -- The partially assembled Delta II rocket (right) and the gantry (left) wait for the rocket's second stage to be transported to the launch pad. The Delta II rocket will launch the Aqua-EOS satellite. Aqua is one of a series of spacebased platforms that are central to NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), a long-term study of the scope, dynamics and implications of global change. The Aqua program is composed of Aqua and other spacecraft (including Terra and Aura) and a data distribution system (ESDIS, and Mission Operations Center Implementation Team). Flying in an orbit that covers the globe every 16 days, Aqua will provide a six-year chronology of the planet and its processes. Comprehensive measurements taken by its onboard instruments will allow multidisciplinary teams of scientists and researchers from North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe to assess long-term change, identify its human and natural causes and advance the development of models for long-term forecasting. Launch is scheduled for April 26 from Vandenberg