Encyclopedia Astronautica

American earth atmosphere satellite. One launch, 2004.07.15. Earth Observing System (EOS) Aura was a NASA mission to study the Earth's ozone, air quality and climate.

Aura was the third in a series of major Earth observing satellites to study the environment and climate change. Terra and studied the land, oceans, and the Earth's radiation budget.

Aura's chemistry measurements were also to follow up on measurements which began with NASA'S Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite and continue the record of satellite ozone data collected from the TOMS missions.

The EOS Aura satellite, instruments, launch, and science investigations were managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The satellite was launched in July 2004 and was designed to operate for five or more years. Scientific payloads included:

  • HIRDLS - High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder
  • MLS - Microwave Limb Sounder
  • OMI - Ozone Monitoring Instrument
  • TES - Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer

The Aura spacecraft was based on the EOS Common Spacecraft design adapted for the Aura scientific instrument payload. Built by TRW Inc. (Redondo Beach, CA), the spacecraft provided the essential services for operating the four scientific instruments including electrical power, thermal environment, field of view freedom, and pointing accuracy and stability required to obtain scientific data over the six year life of the mission.

The Aura spacecraft bus design was the same as that of NASA's Aqua mission: mechanical and electrical interfaces for accommodating the science payloads differed between the two spacecraft, but the bus subsystems, such as electrical power and attitude control, were identical, resulting in reduced cost for both design and the acquisition of hardware and software.

The spacecraft was put into a near polar, sun-synchronous orbit with a period of approximately 100 minutes. The spacecraft repeated its ground track every 16 days to provide atmospheric measurements over virtually every point on the Earth in a repeatable pattern, permitting assessment of atmospheric phenomena changes in the same geographic locations throughout the life of the mission.

Aura Specifications

  • Size: Stowed - 8.8 ft h (2.70 m ) by 7.5 ft w (2.28 m ) by 22.7 ft (6.91 m )
  • Deployed - 15.4 ft h (4.70 m ) by 57.0 ft w (17.37 m ) by 22.7 ft (6.91 m )
  • Weight: Total - 6,542 lbs (2,967 kg)
  • Spacecraft - 3,896 lbs (1,767 kg)
  • Instruments - 2,646 lbs (1,200 kg)
  • Power: 4,600W (End of Life)
  • Telemetry: S-band
  • Orbit: 438 mi (705 km) polar, sun-synchronous, 1:45 PM ascending node
  • Launch Vehicle: Delta 7920


Electric System: 4.60 average kW.

Gross mass: 2,967 kg (6,541 lb).
Payload: 1,200 kg (2,600 lb).
First Launch: 2004.07.15.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Delta 7920-X Three stage vehicle consisting of 9 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K with 3.05 m (10 foot) diameter fairing More...
  • Delta 7920-10L American orbital launch vehicle. Three stage vehicle consisting of 9 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K with 3.05 m (10 foot) diameter long fairing More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • TRW American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. TRW Corporation, Redondo Beach, CA, USA. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Aqua Home Page, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Aura Launch Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Aura Science Writer's Guide, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC2W Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...

Aura Chronology

2004 July 15 - . 10:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC2W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7920-10L. LV Configuration: Delta 7920-10L D306.
  • Aura - . Payload: EOS-CHEM1 / T330 (AB1200). Mass: 2,967 kg (6,541 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Manufacturer: TRW. Class: Earth. Type: Atmosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Aura. USAF Sat Cat: 28376 . COSPAR: 2004-026A. Apogee: 694 km (431 mi). Perigee: 688 km (427 mi). Inclination: 98.2000 deg. Period: 98.60 min. Summary: Atmosphere Dynamics & Chemistry. Delayed from January 29, February 6, March 19, June 17, 19 and 26, July 8, 10, 11, 13 and 14..

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