REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 24, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- More than 350 people attended ceremonies marking completion of development of NASA's Aura Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite at Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Space Park facility, in Southern California, last week.

The event included remarks from Wes Bush, sector president, Northrop Grumman Space Technology; Ghassem Asrar, NASA associate administrator for Earth Science; Al Diaz, director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (ret.) Eugene Tattini, deputy director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Anne Douglass, NASA Aura deputy program scientist; and Greg Davidson, Northrop Grumman Space Technology director of Civil Space.

"Aura is the most comprehensive chemical laboratory that we can put 700 kilometers above the Earth," Asrar told employees and invited guests. "It will help us understand why the atmosphere is unique and how it has supported diversified life for generations in the past, and hopefully, for generations to come in the future.

"This beautiful satellite is the result of a partnership we forged with Northrop Grumman more than a decade ago and is a tribute to all of you," added Asrar.

As part of NASA's EOS program, Aura will take the most comprehensive measurements of atmospheric gases ever taken, including ozone. Aura will be the first satellite with the capability to gauge the concentration and movement of gases in the troposphere, the region of the Earth's atmosphere--some seven to 10 miles above its surface--that most affects daily human life.

Aura is based on Northrop Grumman's Common Spacecraft bus, a modular, standardized spacecraft that features precision pointing for scientific and remote sensing payloads. It is the second EOS satellite built by Northrop Grumman for NASA; engineers were able to incorporate lessons learned building its sibling, Aqua, to cut costs and improve quality.

"Aura is a poster child for what NASA and industry can achieve working together on a focused and well-designed program," said Wes Bush, president, Northrop Grumman Space Technology. "Aura combines innovative satellite technology along with a very focused scientific mission. We expect great science from Aura and we're looking forward to its launch this summer."

Aqua was successfully launched in 2002. It has been returning climate-related measurements of the Earth's atmosphere, cloud cover, precipitation, terrestrial snow cover and sea ice that is helping scientists to better understand the intricacies of the Earth's water cycle.

Northrop Grumman has decades of experience as an instrument developer and a systems prime contractor, building highly reliable spacecraft and sensors for remote sensing missions. Based in Redondo Beach, Calif., Northrop Grumman Space Technology is leader in the design and development of systems, satellites and sensors for remote sensing, environmental and space science missions.

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  CONTACT:  Sally Koris
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology 
          (310) 812-4721
          sally.koris@ngc.com