A NASA weather 'Eye in the sky' marks 10 years |
03 May 2012
For 10 years, it has silently swooped through space in its orbital perch 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth, its nearly 2,400 spectral "eyes" peering into Earth's atmosphere, watching. But there's nothing alien about NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, or AIRS, instrument, a "monster" of weather and climate research that celebrates its 10th birthday in orbit May 4.
AIRS, built by BAE Systems, Boston, under the direction of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is one of six instruments flying on NASA's Aqua spacecraft as part of NASA's Earth Observing System. AIRS, along with its partner microwave instrument, the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU-A), has faithfully measured our planet's atmospheric temperature, water vapor, clouds and greenhouse gases with unprecedented accuracy and stability.
Over the past decade, AIRS and AMSU-A have improved our understanding of Earth's global water and energy cycles, climate change and trends and how Earth's climate system is responding to increased greenhouse gases.
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