A satellite mission to study climate change on Earth has been delayed due to problems with its solar arrays. The Glory mission was scheduled for a November 22, 2010 launch, but it now has been tentatively pushed back to February 23, 2011. Reportedly, ground testing revealed a problem with a mechanism in one of the two solar panels on the Glory satellite. “The new launch date provides the necessary additional time required to complete preparations for the rocket and the spacecraft,” said a NASA status report issued on Friday. The mission is slated to launch on an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The $424 million Glory mission will gather data to help scientists to better understand the Earth’s energy budget. It will look at the properties of aerosols, including black carbon, in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate system, and enable a greater understanding of the seasonal variability of aerosol properties.
It will also collect data on solar irradiance for the long-term effects on the Earth climate record, helping to help in our understanding whether the temperature increase and climate changes are by-products of natural events or whether the changes are caused by man-made sources is of primary importance.
On the last Taurus XL launch in February 2009 — for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, another NASA climate change research satellite — a fairing failed to separate, and the mission failed.