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Mission Specification


Aqua, Latin for water, is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission is collecting about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice.
Launched in a sun-synchronous orbit on May 4, 2002 Aqua is second satellite in NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) that is equipped with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Aqua is the EOS-PM satellite which together with the EOS-AM satellite let the MODIS instruments view the entire planet every 1 to 2 days.  Covering a swath width of 2330 km MODIS delivers sea surface temperature, atmospheric temperature, cloud temperature, cloud altitude, water vapor, ocean color and aerosol data.  MODIS sea surface temperature gridded products are available at near real time (link).

Spacecraft Stats

Orbit Characteristics

Sun synchronous, near-polar orbit

Equatorial Crossing 1:30 p.m., ascending node
Inclination 98°
Altitude 705 km
Period 99 minutes
Semi-major axis 7085 km
Eccentricity 0.0015

Launch Statistics

Vehicle Two-stage Delta II 7920-10L with 9 strap-on solid rocket motors and 10 foot, bisector, composite fairing
Site SLC-2W, Western Range, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Launch Date May 4, 2002 @ 2:55 a.m. PDT
Window 1335 LMST to 1345 LMST (any day of the year)

Vital Statistics

Weight (at launch) 2,934 kg (6,468 pounds)
Power 4,860 watts end of life
Size (stowed) 2.7 m (8.8 ft) x 2.5 m (8.2 ft) x 6.5 m (21.3 ft)
Size (deployed) 4.8 m (15.8 ft) x 16.7 m (54.8 ft) x 8 m (26.4 ft)
Mission Life 6 years