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Status: Current, Extended Mission
Mission Category: Earth Observing System (EOS), A-Train
Launch Date: July 15, 2004
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA
Designed Life: July 15, 2010

Aura's four instruments study the atmosphere's chemistry and dynamics. Aura's measurements enable us to investigate questions about ozone trends, air-quality changes and their linkage to climate change. Aura's measurements also provide accurate data for predictive models and useful information for local and national agency decision-support systems.

The Aura satellite and its instruments are in good/excellent health, having aged well. This status is expected to continue to the end of the mission. Insufficient power generation by the solar array is conservatively predicted to be the life-limiting factor for the Aura satellite and instruments by mid-2026.

Since launch in 2004, the polar sun synchronous orbit of the spacecraft has been stable and repeatable through periodic spacecraft maneuvers (i.e., inclination adjust maneuvers [IAMs], and drag make-up maneuvers [DMUs]), which require fuel to maintain Aura’s position in the A-Train constellation of satellites. The final IAMs were done in April 2023 to save remaining fuel. Consequently, the spacecraft is slowly drifting over time. The final DMUs were performed in January 2023, so the spacecraft will slowly begin losing altitude, but only a few kilometers by the end of the mission.

Key Aura Facts

Mission/Portal Page:
Reference Handbook:
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920 rocket
Altitude:Distance from sea level. 705km
Inclination: 98.2°
Local Node:Approximate time, at the equator when vehicle is directly overhead. 1:45 p.m.
Origination: Joint with Netherlands, Finland, and the U.K.
Instruments: HIRDLS (High-Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder)
MLS (Microwave Limb Sounder)
OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument)
TES (Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer)
Project Scientist(s): Bryan Duncan
Deputy Project Scientist(s): Joanna Joiner

Related Publications:

Relevant Science Focus Areas:

  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Climate Variability and Change
  • Weather

Relevant Science Questions:

  • How is the global Earth system changing?
  • How will the Earth system change in the future?

Science Goals:

  • The Aura mission seeks to answer three main science questions: Is the stratospheric ozone layer recovering? What are the processes controlling air quality? How is Earth's climate changing?

Related Applications:

  • Agricultural Efficiency
  • Air Quality
  • Public Health