Science & Technology

SDL Project Launches to Help Observe the Earth's Atmosphere

SDL Project Launches to Help Observe the Earth's Atmosphere

SDL workers prepare TES instrumentA critical piece of hardware built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory for the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument launched into space July 15 aboard NASA's Aura satellite on its way to help scientists study the ozone.

The TES interferometer, or sensor, will break light up into colors in order to measure chemicals that affect the ozone. This data will enable scientists to better understand the condition of the Earth's upper and lower atmosphere and will help them study global warming.

"It was a difficult piece of hardware to build," Robert Anderson, SDL program manger for TES, said. "It's always a pleasure to see something I worked on go up in space."

The SDL built hardware worth $3.1 million is called TES-FPOMA (Focal Plane Opto-Mechanical Assembly). It is the housing for TES's infrared interferometer sensor. The requirements for TES-FPOMA from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were so difficult that SDL was the only company to bid on the project.

"FPOMA was challenging because of its tight tolerance system, and building it for three temperature zones was just another tricky part to the project," Blake Crowther, a senior optical scientist at SDL, said. "It's built to withstand temperatures that other mechanisms on TES cannot."

TES-FPOMA consists of FPOMA-1 and FPOMA-2; both are designed for separate spectral channels. It was completed and delivered in 2000, and since then SDL has been anxiously awaiting its launch.

Read the full press release detailing the launch on SDL's Web site.


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