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New Millennium Earth Observation Mission Ready To Launch

November 17, 2000
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
When the Delta rocket carrying the Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) satellite and SAC-C spacecraft lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday, a new era of looking at Earth will have begun. EO-1's primary mission is to test a set of advanced technology land imaging instruments. The SAC-C spacecraft carrying the cooperative mission between NASA and the Argentine Commission on Space Activities (CONAE) will study the structure and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere and geomagnetic field.

NASA will launch the Earth Observing (EO-1) satellite and SAC-C, an international cooperative mission between NASA and the Argentine Commission on Space Activities (CONAE) on November 18 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. at 10:24 a.m. PST (1:24 p.m. EST).

In 1996, NASA started the New Millennium Program (NMP), designed to identify, develop and flight validate key instrument and spacecraft technologies that can enable new or more cost-effective approaches to conducting science missions in the 21st century. The first of three New Millennium Program Earth-orbiting missions is Earth Observing-1 (EO-1), an advanced land-imaging mission that will demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems.

"We are all excited about the launch of the New Millennium Program's first Earth-Observing mission. This mission will change the way we do land imaging by demonstrating new technologies that will lower the cost of future missions while providing image products of greater clarity, greater accuracy, and greater spectral detail than previously available. These capabilities will provide fresh insights into the health of our crops, forests, and wetlands while also being able to track natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions and large storms and their impact on our environment.," said Dr. Bryant Cramer, the New Millennium Program Manager.

EO-1 will validate technologies contributing to the reduction in cost of follow-on Landsat missions. EO-1's primary focus is to develop and test a set of advanced technology land imaging instruments. However, many other key instruments and technologies are part of the mission and will have wide ranging applications to future land imaging missions in particular and future satellites in general.

Future NASA spacecraft will be an order of magnitude smaller and lighter than current versions, and the EO-1 mission will provide the on-orbit demonstration and validation of several subsystem technologies to enable this transition. Key subsystems addressed in this mission include communications, power, propulsion, thermal and data storage.

EO-1 will be inserted into an orbit flying in formation with the Landsat 7 satellite taking a series of the same images. Comparison of these "paired scene" images will be one means to evaluate EO-1's land imaging instruments. EO-1's smaller, cheaper and more capable spacecraft, instruments and technologies will set the pace for future Earth science missions in the new millennium.

EO-1 will be launched on a Delta 7320 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. After deployment from the third stage of the Delta, EO-1 will fly in a 705-km circular, Sun-synchronous orbit at a 98.7-degree inclination. This orbit allows EO-1 to follow behind and match within one minute the Landsat 7 orbit and collect identical images for later comparison on the ground.

Swales Aerospace, Beltsville, Md. built the EO-1 spacecraft bus under a Goddard contract. Litton Amecom, College Park, Md. is the key avionics subcontractor. The three primary instruments on the EO-1 observatory are the Advanced Land Imager, the Hyperion and the Linear Imaging Spectrometer Array (LEISA) Atmospheric Corrector (AC).


Joining EO-1 aboard the Delta rocket is the SAC-C spacecraft, an international mission to study the structure and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere and geomagnetic field. SAC-C also will seek to measure the space radiation in the environment and its influence on advanced electronic components and determine the migration route of the Franca whale. Another objective of the payload is to verify autonomous methods of attitude and orbit determination.

The SAC C mission is a collaboration between the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, France and Italy.

SAC-C has an instrument payload of 11 different instruments. Eight of those instruments are dedicated to better understanding the Earth's environment and ecology. SAC will carry three GPS instruments to test new technology in spacecraft development and environmental monitoring.

The spacecraft will fly in a Sun-synchronous circular orbit 436 miles (702 kilometers) at a 98.2 degree inclination. SAC-C weighs approximately 1,045 pounds (475 kilograms). SAC-C will be three-axis stabilized in orbit with orbital maneuvers performed via an on-board propulsion system to maintain selected ground observing locations.

The Commission on Space Activities (CONAE) is responsible for development of the spacecraft and several instruments. The Brazilian Space Agency provided the testing facilities for SAC-C. The Italian Space Agency has partnered with CONAE to supply both solar panels and two GPS receivers. The Danish Space Research Institute provided the Magnetic Mapping Payload which carries a NASA Supplied Helium Magnetometer, and the French Space Agency is contributing an experiment to test the response of electronic circuitry to space radiation. The launch vehicle and some science instruments are provided by NASA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. is responsible for overall project management.

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Materials provided by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "New Millennium Earth Observation Mission Ready To Launch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2000. <>.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. (2000, November 17). New Millennium Earth Observation Mission Ready To Launch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2023 from
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "New Millennium Earth Observation Mission Ready To Launch." ScienceDaily. (accessed December 5, 2023).

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