NASA calls off Glory launch at last minute

Posted by Emma Woollacott

NASA this morning called off the launch of its Glory satellite, five minutes before takeoff. It's been postponed until tomorrow, with NASA citing unspecified technical issues.

Glory, aboard an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket, was set for launch early this morning from Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA says that it's trouble-shooting the problem, and expects the launch to go ahead tomorrow instead, with good weather forecast.

The three-year Glory mission will examine how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles affect Earth's climate.

Glory carries the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM), which measures variations in the amount of solar energy that strikes the top of the atmosphere. It should help maintain a largely continuous record of solar irradiance that stretches back to the 1970s, and should be at least three times more accurate than the previous version.

Meanwhile, its Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) observes the small droplets and particles in the atmosphere, called aerosols, that can affect the climate.

This is NASA's first instrument capable of studying the polarization of light from aerosols with enough precision to identify aerosol types globally from space. 

The idea is to gain an accurate description of Earth's energy budget —the amount of energy entering and exiting the Earth's climate system — to help anticipate future changes to the climate.