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Atlas 2



The second flight in a series of Space Shuttle-Spacelab missions, designated the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS), was part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth. The first ATLAS was flown on STS 45 in March 1992. The ATLAS series was intended to study the composition of the middle atmosphere and its possible variations due to solar changes over the course of an 11-year solar cycle. The second flight of ATLAS focused on atmospheric and solar physics studies and did not include the experiments on space plasma physics and astronomy that were flown with the ATLAS 1 payload. The ATLAS 2 instruments were mounted on Spacelab pallets (provided by ESA) in the Shuttle payload bay. The ATLAS 2 instrument power supply, command and data handling system and temperature control systems were housed in a pressurized container called an igloo located in front of the pallet. The Shuttle's changing orientation to Earth placed the experiments in advantageous orbiting locations to observe the atmosphere and the Sun. The Shuttle orbiter orientation was either inertially fixed so that selected instruments were pointed at the Sun, or nadir pointed for observations of the Earth's atmosphere. Crew members were in consultation with the investigators while controlling and monitoring the experiments. The atmospheric and solar instrument data were also used to provide correlative measurements with the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) and the Solar-Backscattered Ultraviolet (SBUV/2) instruments on board the NOAA polar orbiters. The ATLAS 2 core instruments consisted of: (1) Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM); (2) Measurement of the Solar Constant (SOLCON); (3) Solar Spectrum Measurement (SOLSPEC); (4) Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM); (5) Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS); and, (6) Millimeter-Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS). The ATLAS 2 payload was co-manifested with the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV 05) experiment and integrated into the ATLAS Science Plan.

Alternate Names

  • STS 56/Atlas 2
  • Atlas2

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1993-04-08
Launch Vehicle: Shuttle
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 18430.6 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Solar Physics
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Anthony M O'NeilMission ManagerNASA Marshall Space Flight
Dr. Timothy L. MillerMission ScientistNASA Marshall Space Flight
Dr. Jack A. KayeProgram ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Earl J. MontoyaProject ManagerNASA Headquarters
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