SDL Launches SABER Telescope on Friday

December 5, 2001

LOGAN — Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory and NASA Langley Research Center will launch their SABER (Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry) instrument as part of NASA's TIMED (Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere-Energetics

The mission will observe and collect data from the layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere. This region is not well known in comparison to other atmospheric regions.

"The goal is to get a better understanding of how heat is transferred between Earth's environment and space," said Steve Brown, systems engineer at SDL. "Scientists have little information about the mesosphere."

SDL's contribution to the program is the SABER instrument, which is a multi channel radiometer telescope. It will measure pressure, temperature, key gases that glow in infrared, infrared cooling and effects of solar and chemical heating of the mesosphere.

"It was an excellent project for SDL to be involved with," said Lorin Zollinger, Project Manager at SDL. "We had a great working relationship with Jim Miller, the NASA Langley Project Manager. He and his team of engineers made significant contributions to the development of SABER."

SABER took a little over five years to complete. It was integrated on the spacecraft and ready for launch in early 2000, but had to wait for another satellite that was being launched on the same rocket.

"We have been waiting a long time," said Zollinger. "I am excited to finally see SABER launch."

It will be launched from Vandenberg on a Delta II rocket in order to place it in its 625-kilometer polar orbit. In that orbit it should be able to scan the mesosphere of the entire Earth during its two-year mission life.

Data collected will be used to predict weather and global warming. According to NASA it will be able to obtain an unprecedented set of global measurements: temperature, pressure, winds, chemical composition and energy inputs and outputs.

The launch window is set for 7:58 a.m. - 8:18 a.m. on December 7. SDL will be hosting a launch viewing at its facility that morning.