NASA’s Aqua satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC – News), marked its fifth year on-orbit today observing the Earth’s water systems, producing a massive data flow that is giving the world’s scientists insight into the Earth’s climate. Aqua was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on May 4, 2002.

In the last five years, Aqua has rendered detailed views of dramatic events such as hurricanes, dust storms in the Middle East, the continued retreat of sea ice in the Arctic, fires in Australia and the western U.S., and a volcanic eruption in Sicily. Data from Aqua’s unique instruments have given scientists high quality information needed to more accurately predict weather, advance climate studies, map sea surface temperatures and measure changes in the ozone layer.

“We’re proud to celebrate this milestone with NASA and the international science community,” said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector. “Aqua has contributed to our understanding of the Earth’s water systems, demonstrating the benefits of long-term, space-based environmental monitoring. The strong performance of the satellite and instruments to date are enduring proof of the teamwork between the company’s men and women, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the world’s scientists.”

Designed for a six-year mission life, Aqua is the second major platform in NASA’s series of Earth Observing System spacecraft. Aqua provides scientists with about 89 gigabytes of data daily that go into products that are answering questions about hydrological processes in the atmosphere, cryosphere, on land and in the oceans.

“The data produced by Aqua are leading us to a deepening understanding of Earth’s water cycle and the effect it has on both short and long-term climate change,” said Claire L. Parkinson, Aqua’s Project Scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center. “In the long-term, Aqua’s data will contribute to climate-length data sets.” Over the past five years, Aqua data have enabled scientists to:

* Create the first satellite-derived global map of mid-troposphere carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

* Contribute to improved weather forecasts.

* Estimate atmospheric ozone concentrations from infrared measurements to complement the ultraviolet ozone measurements made from another Northrop Grumman-built NASA satellite, the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer — Earth Probe.

* Map daily global sea surface temperatures and obtain local features such as the cold wake following a hurricane, leading to better understanding of ocean-atmosphere processes. Aqua’s images were seen on the news for two months in the buildup and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 122,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.