Polar (satellite)

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File:Polar spacecraft.gif
Polar diagram
Mission type Earth observation
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1996-013A
SATCAT № 23802
Website Polar home page
Mission duration 12 years
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Launch mass 1,300 kg (2,900 lb)
Power 333 watts
Start of mission
Launch date February 24, 1996, 11:24:00 (1996-02-24UTC11:24Z) UTC
Rocket Delta II 7925-10
Launch site Vandenberg SLC-2W
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Highly elliptical
Semi-major axis 35,490.71 km (22,052.90 mi)[1]
Eccentricity 0.7324219[1]
Perigee 3,125 km (1,942 mi)[1]
Apogee 55,113 km (34,246 mi)[1]
Inclination 78.94 degrees[1]
Period 1109.04 minutes[1]
RAAN 292.36 degrees[1]
Argument of perigee 0.55 degrees[1]
Mean anomaly 1.210 degrees[1]
Mean motion 1.210[1]
Epoch 20 January 2015, 23:01:26 UTC[1]

The Global Geospace Science (GGS) Polar Satellite was a NASA science spacecraft designed to study the polar magnetosphere and aurora. It was launched into orbit in February 1996, and continued operations until the program was terminated in April 2008. The spacecraft remains in orbit, though it is now inactive. Polar is the sister ship to GGS Wind.


It was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and launched at 11:23:59.997 UTC on February 24, 1996 aboard a McDonnell Douglas Delta II 7925-10 rocket from launch pad 2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California, to study the polar magnetosphere.

The spacecraft was placed into a highly elliptical orbit with apogee at 9 Earth radii and perigee at 1.8 Earth radii (geocentric), 86 degrees inclination, with a period of around 18 hours. The apogee was initially over the northern polar region, but has since been precessing south at about 16° per year.


Sensors on the spacecraft gathered multi-wavelength imaging of the aurora, and measured the entry of plasma into the polar magnetosphere and the geomagnetic tail, the flow of plasma to and from the ionosphere, and the deposition of particle energy in the ionosphere and upper atmosphere.

The nominal mission duration was two years, but was extended several times. Polar Mission Operations were finally terminated on April 28, 2008.[2][3]

Other names


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "POLAR Satellite details 1996-013A NORAD 23802". N2YO. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lockheed Martin Press Release, April 30, 2008
  3. 'Broken Heart' Image the Last for NASA's Long-Lived Polar Mission

External links