How much ozone is in the stratosphere? What role do aerosols play in the air we breathe? These are some of the questions we are seeking to answer with ongoing SAGE missions. The next SAGE instrument is set to launch to the International Space Station on February 18, 2017.
The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, SAGE, is part of NASA’s mission to provide long-term measurements that help humans better understand and protect Earth’s atmosphere. SAGE measures the Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere. SAGE makes its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere from the unique vantage point of the International Space Station (ISS) which helps maximize the scientific value of SAGE III observations.
Our GLOBE Community is also interested in these atmosphere parameters! While we take measurements on the ground, in the troposphere, SAGE is making measurements about what is happening in the upper atmosphere. For ozone in particular, it’s really important to know where the ozone is. Ozone in the upper atmosphere is good – helping protect Earth from Sun’s harmful rays. On the ground, lower level ozone can be dangerous to our health. Aerosols have an impact on our air no matter where they are in our atmosphere, but aerosols that get into the stratosphere tend to stay up there for longer times. Aerosols in the stratosphere stay there longer because within the troposphere we have weather. Rain showers can ‘wash away’ aerosols.
You can incorporate the SAGE III Mission with your GLOBE investigations. Here’s what I’d recommend:
- Start with a video. You can even watch the launch live on February 18, 2017 on NASA TV online. There are several videos, including the eClips series that are grade level appropriate found here: https://sage.nasa.gov/launchparty/ (scroll down to Watch Videos).
- Do a related GLOBE Activity.
- Elementary school grades: Make sky color observation using, Sky Observers and Read the Elementary GLOBE Storybook, What’s Up in the Atmosphere?
- Middle and High school grades: Investigate aerosols by doing the Calculating Relative Air Mass Activity and making aerosol measurements following the Aerosol Protocol. You could also learn more about the measurement units of ozone by doing the activity, Construct a Model of Surface Ozone.
- Add other relevant SAGE activities. You can find more hands-on activities at the SAGE Launch kit site: https://sage.nasa.gov/launchparty/.