/$130 million space mission to monitor Earth’s energy budget

$130 million space mission to monitor Earth’s energy budget

Summary: NASA announced that it has given the green light to Libera, a new space mission that will record how much energy leaves our planet’s atmosphere on a day-by-day basis

Original author and publication date: Daniel Strain – February 27, 2020

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The more we know about Earth. the more we know about ourselves. Therefore, the more we are at risk of simply denying and rejecting that knowledge. Self-delusion seems to be a key element in human psyche.

A graphic of what the Libera instrument might look like onboard NASA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-3. (Credit: Shelley Petroy, Ball Aerospace) 

From the article:

CU Boulder will soon play a major role in measuring the withdrawals from Earth’s energy bank account.

This week, NASA announced that it has given the green light to Libera, a new space mission that will record how much energy leaves our planet’s atmosphere on a day-by-day basis—data that can provide crucial information about how Earth’s climate is evolving over time.

Peter Pilewskie, a professor at CU Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), will lead the development of this nearly $130-million scientific instrument.

“This highly innovative instrument introduces a number of new technologies such as advanced detectors that will improve the data we collect while maintaining continuity of these important radiation budget measurements,” said Sandra Cauffman, acting director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, in a statement.

LASP Director Daniel Baker added that the mission builds on the center’s seven decades of work to better understand the relationships between Earth and its sun—and the implications for humans on the ground.

“Libera is a major new step in that long journey,” Baker said. “The Libera team will bring the energy, innovation and cost-effectiveness of an academic-led team to address a fundamental question in space and Earth science. LASP is proud to be leading the way in this fascinating endeavor.”

Libera is a partnership between CU Boulder, Ball Aerospace, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), all based in Colorado, and Utah State University.

Getting the balance right
The mission also builds on decades of observation from NASA’s suite of Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments. In Roman mythology, Libera is the daughter of the goddess Ceres.

The mission focuses on understanding the flow of energy out of the planet and how it changes over time, said Pilewskie, also of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at CU Boulder.

He explained that every minute, Earth absorbs a huge amount of energy from the sun. At the same time, our planet also emits and reflects energy back into space. Just like the difference between deposits and withdrawals determines how much money you have in your bank account, “the balance of those two processes over time tells us about the state of climate,” Pilewskie said. “If there’s an imbalance, the climate changes.”

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