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NASA satellite to study atmospheric pollution
Associated Press

15 July 2004

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California -- NASA's Aura satellite was launched into orbit on a $785 million mission to study Earth's atmosphere.

Aura's six-year mission is intended to determine the composition of Earth's atmosphere in unprecedented detail.

"We're really looking forward to the payoffs, both in terms of scientific understanding and benefits to society that are going to come from this Aura mission," program scientist Phil DeCola said last week.

The mission seeks to improve understanding of how pollutants spread globally, to determine whether the stratospheric ozone layer, which blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation, is recovering from depletion by manmade chemicals, and how Earth's climate is the changing as its atmosphere is altered.

The 6,542-pound satellite carries four instruments, built by Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands and Finland.

Science operations were slated to begin about 90 days after launch.

Aura, managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is part of NASA's first series of Earth Observing System satellites. Two other parts of the system are already in orbit: the Terra satellite, which observes land, and Aqua, which studies Earth's water cycle.

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