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 Five years of Aura

Five Years of Aura


Aura has fulfilled its requirement for a 5 year lifetime and continues to provide high quality science. These data are being used to improve our knowledge of climate, air quality, and the physical and chemical processes controlling the Earth's ozone layer. EOS Aura is the caboose of the A-train afternoon constellation of satellites, currently orbiting about 7 minutes behind EOS Aqua, CloudSat, and CALIPSO.

Aura science highlights

  • Measuring the largest Antarctic ozone hole on record (in 2006)
  • Continuing the stratospheric measurement record of HCl, a major chlorine reservoir gas after polar ozone loss
  • Making the first global measurements of water isotopes that provide information about the hydrological cycle
  • Making the first global measurements of small-scale gravity waves in the stratosphere
  • Determining the effects of pollution on clouds and precipitation (in combination with information from other A-train sensors)
  • Making the first coincident maps of tropospheric ozone and carbon monoxide, two important pollutants, that show how pollution is transported between continents
  • Measuring the high vertical resolution profiles of ozone that reveal transport of tropical air into the mid-latitudes and interannual variations in the mixing
  • Measuring significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide (an EPA criteria pollutant)near the surface in the US and Europe between 2005 and 2007, while observing increases over parts of southeast Asia
  • Making the first satellite-based estimates of sulfur dioxide emissions from Peruvian smelters and non-erupting volcanoes
  • Measuring a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions over Beijing during the 2008 olympics
  • Making first global measurements of cloud ice in the upper troposphere
  • Providing first daily global maps of tropospheric ozone
  • Estimating the effect of tropospheric ozone on the global radiation budget (it is the third most important anthropogenic climate gas)
  • Making the first measurement of the hydroxyl radical (OH) in the middle stratosphere that helped to resolve a disagreement between models and previous observations
  • Tracking sulfur dioxide and ash plumes from every volcanic eruption since launch to aid in aircraft avoidance
  • Providing the first maps of sub-visible cirrus clouds in the tropical upper troposphere
  • Making interannual measurements of tropospheric ozone and other important atmospheric constituents that show the effects of El Nino and other large-scale oscillations
  • Making multi-year measurements of absorbing aerosol over land showing for example a significant drop in aerosol loading over South America during its peak biomass burning season in 2008 as compared with 2007
  • Observing ozone inside deep convective clouds, showing how boundary layer pollution can be lofted into the upper troposphere during convection
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