Continuing a 27-year legacy of commitment to recording global climate change measurement, a key Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) instrument will launch on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft later this month.
The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument has been integrated onto the NPP spacecraft, due to launch Oct. 27. CERES Flight Model 5 continues the legacy of Northrop Grumman-built broadband radiometers which measure the amount of sunlight reflected from the Earth and atmosphere as well as the thermal energy emitted by the Earth and its atmosphere.
This allows scientists to collect the data to monitor the temperature of the planet and validate models that calculate the effect of clouds in driving planetary heating or cooling. Science teams around the world use CERES data to understand the Earth's radiation budget which helps compute global temperature changes over the long term. These temperature changes can be enough to increase or shrink arable lands, lengthen growing seasons, and enlarge cold zones or deserts.
"CERES is broadly acknowledged as the most precisely calibrated optical radiometer ever to fly in space," said Mark Folkman, director, sensor products, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "In order to meet the stringent requirements of the climate community, Northrop Grumman has invested in a highly specialized facility for calibrating CERES instruments on the ground. These calibrations are regularly checked by on-board systems and have proven to be extremely stable."
"The four CERES instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua Earth Observing System spacecraft are still operating and all are now well past their design lives," said Ravi Narasimhan, CERES program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We eagerly await the launch of CERES on NPP to preserve the continuity of this vital piece of the climate data record."
CERES instruments and an earlier generation of similar sensors also built by Northrop Grumman, called Earth Radiation Budget Experiment, have been capturing measurements of the reflected solar radiation and emitted thermal radiation over the Earth's surface since 1984.
Data from NPP supplied by CERES and other on-board instruments will be used to address an array of research questions. Meteorologists will incorporate the data into their weather and climate prediction models to produce accurate, life-saving forecasts and warnings. NPP data will also help emergency responders monitor and react to natural disasters.
CERES Flight Model 5 will carry forward the long-term Earth radiation budget measurements for the next several years. The CERES Flight Model 6 instrument, currently in final assembly, will be launched on the first of the next-generation of operational polar-orbiting environmental satellites called the Joint Polar Satellite System.
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