NASA prepares climate science launch

NASA says it's nearly ready to launch a new Earth-observing research satellite, scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California next month.
The Glory mission, scheduled for Feb. 23, will improve understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate, and will continue a legacy of long-term solar measurements intended to address key uncertainties about climate change, a NASA release said Thursday.
Once in orbit Glory will join a fleet called the Afternoon Constellation or "A-train" satellites, a group of Earth-observing satellites, including NASA's Aqua and Aura spacecraft, that flies in tight formation.
Glory will fly in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 438 miles and is intended to collect data for at least three years.
"Glory is going to help scientists tackle one of the major uncertainties in climate change predictions identified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: the influence of aerosols on the energy balance of our planet," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington. "This mission also marks the first satellite launch under President Obama's climate initiative that will advance the United States' contribution to cutting-edge and policy-relevant climate change science."