Launch Date: July 15, 2004
Launch Time: 6:01:59 a.m. EDT
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920-10L
Launch Pad: SLC-2
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Aura is part of the Earth Observing System (EOS), a program dedicated to monitoring the complex interactions that affect the globe using NASA satellites and data systems. The spacecraft is specifically designed to answer three basic questions about our atmosphere.
Is the Earth’s ozone layer recovering?
Earth’s stratosphere contains the ozone layer, a barrier that protects life from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. One of Aura’s main goals is to monitor levels of ozone and the pollutants that contribute to depleting it.
Is air quality getting worse?
The lower level of our atmosphere, known as the troposphere, is also affected by human activity. Aura will make the first space-based observations of the troposphere to discover global patterns and trends that shape its health.
How is the Earth’s climate changing?
Water vapor and ozone in the upper layers of our atmosphere are important factors in maintaining global temperature. Aura will study the levels and distribution of these key gases to better understand how they regulate climate.