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Cosmos 320



Cosmos 320 was the twentieth Russian experimental meteorological satellite and the fourth launched from the Kapustin Yar site. The satellite was orbited to continue the radiation studies of the earth's surface, atmosphere, and cloud cover begun by Cosmos 149. The satellite, which was basically an orbiting optical station, was equipped with (1) two medium-resolution, narrow-angle, three-channel scanning telephotometers operating in the visible spectral region to determine the statistical values of cloud fields and surface formations, cloudtop heights, and atmospheric water vapor content, (2) a high-resolution, narrow-angle, IR radiometer operating in the 10- to 12-micron window to determine surface and cloudtop temperatures, (3) a pair of three-channel, wide-angle radiometers to determine the radiative balance of the earth-atmosphere system, and (4) a television camera system to provide cloudcover pictures for correlation with the radiation data. The configuration and size of Cosmos 320 were identical to those of Cosmos 149. It was shaped like a domed cylinder with an annular base and aerodynamic stabilizer and was 6.5 m long and 1.2 m in diameter. One of the telephotometers was mounted in the domed nose section and scanned in a plane perpendicular to the flight path, while the other was mounted on the left side of the cylindrical center section and scanned along the flight path. The television system was housed in the side of the domed nose section, and its optical axis was directly along nadir. The radiation balance sensor units were attached to booms that telescoped out from the lower and upper sides of the satellite base. The lower sensor unit faced nadir, and the upper sensor unit viewed in the zenith direction. Also attached to the base, by means of four long bars, was the annular aerodynamic stabilizer, which was capable of providing an orientation in space with an error less than 5 deg relative to the three coordinate axes. The satellite's orientation was also regulated with rather high accuracy from the measurements made by the scientific instruments. The orientation and stabilization system made it possible to relate data to geographical location with an accuracy of 10 to 15 km at nadir. The satellite transmitted data in either a direct readout or a memory mode at 90 MHz via an antenna mounted on the upper side of the satellite base. The satellite instrumentation included a programming and timing device for controlling the various units and the telemetry system in both data transmission modes. The misssion was a success, and good data on the radiation field of the earth-atmosphere system were obtained. Cosmos 320 reentered the earth's atmosphere on February 10, 1970, after 25 days in orbit.

Alternate Names

  • 04301
  • Cosmos320

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1970-01-16
Launch Vehicle: Kosmos-2I
Launch Site: Kapustin Yar, U.S.S.R
Mass: 300 kg

Funding Agency

  • Soviet Academy of Sciences (U.S.S.R)


  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



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