Ariel (UK satellites)
Ariel-4. Image credit: NASA.
Ariel was a series of six British satellites launched by NASA. The first four were devoted to studying the ionosphere, the remaining two to X-ray astronomy and cosmic-ray studies. Ariel 1 was the first international satellite. It was named in February 1962 for the spirit of the air who was released by Prospero in Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The name "Ariel" – a traditional one in British aeronautics – was chosen by the UK Ministry of Science and endorsed by NASA.
Ariel 1 (UK-1 before orbit) was built by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and instrumented with six British experiments to make integrated measurements in the ionosphere. Ariel 2, contained three UK-built experiments and was placed in orbit two years later. Ariel 3, designed and built in the United Kingdom, carried five experiments. The UK-built Ariel 4 carried four UK and one US experiment to investigate plasma, charged particles, and electromagnetic waves in the ionosphere.
Ariel 5 was one of the earliest X-ray astronomy satellites and involved a British-American collaboration. The Science Research Council managed the project for the United Kingdom and the Goddard Space Flight Center for the United States. Several catalogs of X-rays sources stemmed from its observations which continued until the spring of 1980.
|spacecraft||launch date||launch vehicle||launch site||orbit||mass (kg)|
|Ariel 1||Apr 26, 1962||Delta||Cape Canaveral||398 × 1,203 km × 53.8°||60|
|Ariel 2||Mar 27, 1964||Scout X-3||Wallops Island||287 × 1,349 km × 51.7°||68|
|Ariel 3||May 5, 1967||Scout A||Vandenberg||499 × 604 km × 80.6°||90|
|Ariel 4||Dec 11, 1971||Scout B||Vandenberg||476 × 592 km × 82.0°||100|
|Ariel 5||Oct 15, 1974||Scout B||San Marco||504 × 549 km × 2.9°||129|
|Ariel 6||Jun 2, 1979||Scout D||Wallops Island||372 × 383 km × 55.0°||154|