New Climate Imager Makes First Flight

By: NASA
By: NASA
A 60-story tall balloon lifted HySICS to an altitude of nearly 122,000 feet, far above the majority of Earth’s atmosphere, heights where the sky is nearly as black as in space.

The high-altitude balloon that carried the HySICS instruments to the outermost part of Earth's atmosphere was inflated with helium at sunrise on the morning of Sept. 29, 2013.

In order to better understand Earth’s climate scientists are looking closely at reflected solar radiance, the amount of outgoing sunlight energy scattered from Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Watching solar radiances over time helps scientists better understand environmental changes.

Earth-observing satellites have provided measurements of solar radiances for many years, but recent technology advances could lead to new measurements with a higher level of accuracy. The higher-accuracy data would enable faster detection of climate trends.

NASA's Earth Science Technology Office is supporting the development of a new generation of scientific instrument that may one day orbit Earth. The HyperSpectral Imager for Climate Science (HySICS), developed by Greg Kopp of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), is a test bed demonstrating improved techniques for future space-based radiance studies.

HySICS made its inaugural engineering balloon flight from Fort Sumner, N.M., the morning of Sept. 29. Balloon flights provide realistic, space-like conditions at a fraction of the cost of launching an instrument into space, so is an ideal means of testing new technologies. A 60-story tall balloon lifted HySICS to an altitude of nearly 122,000 feet, far above the majority of Earth’s atmosphere, heights where the sky is nearly as black as in space. From this vantage point HySICS was able to make measurements of Earth, the sun and the moon during both daylight and night hours.

After landing safely south of Wheeler, Texas, HySICS was recovered and returned to University of Colorado’s Laboratory . The data collected during the engineering flight will be used to improve the instrument over the next year and to further advance the science algorithms used to process the data

For the full story: NASA.gov


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