Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Climate & Space Professor Huang co-Investigator on new NASA Earth Venture mission

Posted: February 5, 2018

Climate & Space Professor Huang co-Investigator on new NASA Earth Venture mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected a $90M venture-class mission, Polar Radiant Energy in the Far InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE), to be its next Earth Venture Instrument (EV-I). The mission was just one of two selected from 14 proposals considered under NASA's fourth Earth Venture Instrument opportunity. Earth Venture investigations are small, targeted science investigations that complement NASA's larger missions. 

The Principal Investigator of PREFIRE is Professor Tristan L'Ecuyer of the Atmospheric Radiation and Climate Research Group in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PREFIRE will fly a pair of small CubeSat satellites to make the first full spectral measurements of Far InfraRed (FIR) radiation, revealing the full spectrum of Arctic radiant energy emitted by Earth. The Arctic helps to regulate Earth’s temperature by radiating excess energy from the Sun back into space, but satellite instruments currently fall short of detecting the full spectrum of energy wavelengths.

“[PREFIRE] fills a major gap in our knowledge of the Arctic energy budget and the role of Far InfraRed radiation in Arctic warming, sea ice loss, ice sheet melt, and sea level rise,” said U-M Climate & Space Professor Xianglei Huang, a mission co-investigator.

Professor Huang is primarily responsible for developing two data products from PREFIRE measurements: spectral flux at top of atmosphere and surface spectral emissivity. Spectral flux tells the decomposition of far-IR energy flux in the spectral dimension, providing additional information for studying radiation budget and data-model comparison. Surface spectral emissivity is a fundamental quantity in the study of surface energy process as it decides the amount of thermal radiation emitted by the surface.

Read the full NASA press release here: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/new-nasa-space-sensors-to-address-key-earth-science-questions