NASA Selects New Instrument to Continue Key Climate Record

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Published on 28 February 2020

NASA has selected a new space-based instrument as an innovative and cost-effective approach to maintaining the 40-year data record of the balance between the solar radiation entering Earth’s atmosphere and the amount absorbed, reflected, and emitted. This radiation balance is a key factor in determining our climate: if Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, it warms up; if it emits more than it absorbs, it cools down.

Earth’s outgoing longwave, or heat, radiation shown here as the average from 2000 to 2015 were measured by the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites. Bright yellow and orange indicate high heat emission, purple and blue indicate intermediate emissions, and white shows little or no heat emission. — Credits: NASA

The new instrument, named Libera, is NASA’s first mission selected in response to the 2017 National Academies’ Earth Science Decadal Survey. The project’s principal investigator is Peter Pilewskie of the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado.

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