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Quick Facts: Glory


The Glory mission was designed to make measurements of both the sun and the Earth. (Courtesy NASA)

Mission Introduction

The Earth’s energy balance and the effect on climate requires measuring black carbon soot and other aerosols, and the total solar irradiance. Glory was a low Earth orbit (LEO) scientific research satellite designed to achieve two major goals:

  • Collect data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate system to enable a greater understanding of the seasonal variability of aerosol properties.
  • Collect data on solar irradiance for the long-term effects on the Earth climate record. 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.

Glory was to accomplish these objectives by utilizing two separate instruments, the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM), developed by LASP, and the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS), developed by Raytheon Santa Barbara Sensing. The instruments resided aboard Orbital Science Corporation’s spacecraft bus.

The Glory mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday, March 4, 2011 at 5:09 a.m. EST, but failed to reach orbit. Telemetry indicated the fairing, the protective shell atop the Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch.

For more information about the Glory mission and the mishap investigation, visit:

Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM)

The Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) tracks variations in the amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. (Courtesy NASA)

LASP Roles

LASP provided:

  • Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM)
  • TIM instrument Principal Investigator, Greg Kopp

LASP Instrument

TIM measures the total solar irradiance (TSI), the spatially and spectrally integrated solar radiation incident at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere. The TIM TSI measurements monitor the incident sunlight to the Earth’s atmosphere using an ambient temperature active cavity radiometer. Using electrical substitution radiometers (ESRs) and taking advantage of new materials and modern electronics, the TIM on Glory was estimated to measure TSI to an absolute accuracy of 100 ppm (0.01%). Relative changes in solar irradiance are measured to less than 10 ppm/yr, allowing determination of possible long-term variations in the Sun’s output.

Quick Facts

Launch date: March 4, 2011
Launch location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Launch vehicle: Taurus XL
Mission target: Upper atmospheric regions of the Earth
Mission duration: 3 year goal
Other organizations involved:

  • Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)