Feature: January 14, 2015

SAGE III on ISS: NVP Completes Final Pre-ship Inspection & Cleaning




A key component of the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III/ISS, an Earth-observing instrument that will be mounted on the International Space Station, has been shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in advance of next year’s launch in February 2016 on a SpaceX rocket.


SAGE III/ISS will measure ozone, water vapor and aerosols in the planet’s stratosphere.


The component, called the Nadir Viewing Platform (NVP,) is an L-shaped mounting bracket that attaches to the station on its ExPress Logistics Carrier and provides the nadir orientation needed by the instrument payload. It left NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia on Jan. 21 and is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Jan. 22.


Once the NVP is installed, the instrument payload will be attached to it. The NVP will ensure the instrument points at Earth rather than into space.


The Nadir Viewing Platform was designed, fabricated, assembled and tested at NASA’s Langley Research Center.




“The NVP design will allow us to use the station’s plug-n-play payload installation approach and put Earth-observing instruments in a configuration that provides the best view of earth,” said Garfield Creary, NVP lead engineer.


SAGE III/ISS will be the first instrument to measure the composition of the middle and lower atmosphere from the space station, and is the latest instrument in one of NASA's longest running Earth-observing programs.


Two decades of data


Previous SAGE instruments include SAGE, launched in 1979, followed by SAGE II in 1984. SAGE II gathered data for more than 20 years, and the information it collected was part of the effort that led to a global ban on chlorofluorocarbons in 1987.


Chlorofluorocarbons were used in air-conditioning units and aerosol spray propellants that contributed to the Earth's shrinking layer of protective ozone – which has begun to recover after the chlorofluorocarbon ban.


Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. built the SAGE III/ISS instrument in Boulder, Colo. The European Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space - Italy, are providing a hexapod to keep the instrument pointing in the right direction as the ISS maneuvers in space.


Michael Finneran

NASA Langley Research Center