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Sunday, February 9, 2014

CubeSat assist in predicting Earth's climate

An artist's impression of RAVAN project's CubeSat. (Picture from: http://spaceref.com/)
A CubeSat Mission to Measure 
the Driver of Global Climate Change
(Picture from: http://www.earthzine.org/)
For now, the temperature difference can not be measured precisely, but scientists at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, in Maryland, plan to use a small and cheap device called 'CubeSat' for that purpose.

The CubeSat was not much bigger one loaf of bread, it could orbit and contains a number of sensors and instruments in it. Scientific breakthroughs in the last decade has enabled the production of satellites with cheaper and lighter, and carried all the spacecraft for communications, navigation and electric power generation.

Earth radiation budget constellation 
enabling the definitive measurement 
of the radiation imbalance and diurnal 
variation. RAVAN represents the first 
component of such a constellation.
(Picture from: http://www.earthzine.org/)
Applied Physics Lab launches two CubeSats into orbit, and proved to be very useful, so it is planned to conduct the next launch. Bill Swartz is a leading scientist of the Ravan project that will utilize CubeSats to calculate the Earth's climate changes more precisely.

Bill said, "CubeSats will be used to measure what is considered by scientists as a small imbalance between solar radiation to the Earth and which propagates outward, reflected and emitted from the Earth and influence the future climate."

RAVAN radiometer measures the 
total outgoing radiation, from 200 nm 
to 200 m. The radiometer uses two key 
technologies: a vertically aligned carbon 
nanotube forest absorber (grown at APL) 
and a gallium fixed-point blackbody 
as a calibration transfer standard.
(Picture from: http://www.earthzine.org/)
Swartz said the main sensor, called a radiometer will be made of the black element and called - carbon nanotubes. Bill adds, "One of optimism about this technology is carbon nanotube is very black and to measure the radiation emitted or reflected from the Earth, then the required a very black elements."

The first CubeSat of Ravan project will be launched next year to see the work function of the nanotube device. The first satellite will be positioned between 550 and 750 kilometers above the Earth, which allows monitoring to the entire planet. Afterward, a constellation of 30 to 40 CubeSats will gather the radiation datas from all points on the Earth simultaneously, either on the day or the night, to help answer questions, such as whether Earth's climate in the future, something that affects us all.. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | VOA NEWS | EARTHZINE]
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