Colloquium: 2018-10-09

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment: A NASA Langley Legacy

Robert Damadeo and Charles Hill

October 9, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. in the Pearl Young Theater


The ozone layer: This protective lining of stratospheric gas prevents a barrage of ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth’s surface, where it can cause skin cancer and damage crops. Its importance can’t be overstated. That’s why when research in the 1970s and ’80s showed the ozone layer was in decline, the reaction was swift. The international community adopted a treaty, the Montreal Protocol, to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals.

Through it all, NASA has monitored the ozone layer. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiments (SAGE) are a series of Earth-orbiting instruments that have observed atmospheric ozone and small atmospheric particles called aerosols. With measurements going back nearly 40 years, data from these instruments have contributed to numerous scientific discoveries in the global chemistry and dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere.

This important work continues with the deployment of SAGE III to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017 aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. As an active Earth-observing science mission, SAGE III/ISS extends the long legacy of global satellite atmospheric measurements from NASA’s Langley Research Center. With the ozone layer only starting to show signs of recovery, we look forward to new and innovative ways of monitoring its health in the decades to come.


Robert Damadeo and Charles Hill are physicists at NASA Langley working on the SAGE III/ISS mission as the lead algorithm scientist and deputy project scientist. They are also co-principal investigators on a project developing a prototype for a potential future CubeSat SAGE instrument.