PREFIRE Polar Mission

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PREFIRE Polar Mission Blog Image


A NASA PREFIRE polar mission is set to be launched from New Zealand on May 22.

About PREFIRE Polar Mission: 

  • The Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment(PREFIRE) polar mission consists of twin satellites, each carrying one instrument and measuring the poles about six hours apart.
  • Objective: The objective of the mission is to reveal the full spectrum of heat loss from Earth’s polar regions for the first time, making climate models more accurate.
  • Aim :
    • The data from the PREFIRE mission is aimed at addressing the gap in knowledge and provide data to improve predictions of climate change and sea level rise.
    • Provide new information on how Earth’s atmosphere and how ice influences the amount of heat being radiated out to space from the Arctic and Antarctic.
  • How will the satellites work?
    • The mission with cube satellites about the size of a shoebox will be launched aboard an Electron launch vehicle.
    • It is equipped with technology proven on Mars, and will measure a “little-studied portion” of the radiant energy emitted by Earth.
    • Two satellites carrying a thermal infrared spectrometer will be in asynchronous near-polar orbits and will be passing over a given spot on Earth at different times. To maximize coverage, they will be overlapping every few hours near the poles.
    • The instruments weighing less than 6 pounds (3 kilograms) each will make readings using a device called a thermocouple, similar to the sensors found in many household thermostats.
  • The mission will help in
    • Understand why the Arctic has warmed more than 2½ times faster than the rest of the planet since the 1970s.
    • Give scientists a better idea of how efficiently far-infrared heat is emitted by matter like snow and sea ice, and how clouds influence the amount of far-infrared radiation that escapes to space.
    • It will help researchers better predict how the heat exchange between Earth and space will change in the future, and how those changes will affect phenomena like ice sheet melting, atmospheric temperatures, and global weather.

Q1: What is Electromagnetic Spectrum?

The electromagnetic spectrum is a continuum of all electromagnetic waves arranged according to frequency or wavelength. It is fundamental to understanding how energy is transmitted across space.

Source: NASA’s new mission to study polar regions’ heat loss to launch on May 22: All you need to know