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SPIE Professional April 2009

Remote Sensing: Technologies for a Better Future

free posters on remote sensingThe print version of the April 2009 issue of SPIE Professional carries a pullout poster depicting the satellites in the Global Change Research Program (GCRP).

As a service to the photonics community, SPIE offers full-size posters of the GCRP and other optics topics. 

The GCRP is one of several multi-nation collaborations using remote sensing satellites to answer questions about climate change. Partners in industry and academia from across the globe have designed instruments and spacecraft to make a large-scale examination from space of the relationship between air quality and climate change.

Finding the sources and absorption spots, or sinks, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as well as their seasonal variability is crucial to improving forecasting about changes in the Earth's climate and evaluating options for mitigating or adapting to climate change.

The SPIE remote sensing poster depicts the Earth Observing System Afternoon Constellation, or A-Train. It is a series of remote sensing satellites that cross the equator shortly after noon every day to study water, aerosols, gases, and clouds in the atmosphere. Five of the six are operational so far, using cloud profiling radar, lidar, a tropospheric emission spectrometer, and other optical instruments.

The A-Train satellites:

  • OCO, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which failed to reach orbit shortly after its 24 February 2009 launch and landed in the ocean off Antarctica, was to have made space-based measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide with three high-resolution grating spectrometers. It would have been NASA's first effort to measure carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to determine where it comes from and where it goes.
  • Aqua carries an imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS), a radiometer for measuring the Earth’s radiation budget (CERES), a microwave scanning radiometer (AMSR-E) and various infrared and microwave sounders to establish temperature and humidity profiles of the atmosphere.
  • CloudSat’s Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) allows for the most detailed study of how clouds regulate Earth’s climate.
  • Calipso’s observations from spaceborne lidar, combined with passive imagery, will lead to improved understanding of the role aerosols and clouds play in regulating the climate.
  • Parasol’s POLDER widefield radiometer measures the directional characteristics and polarization of light reflected by the Earth and atmosphere to further our understanding of the properties of clouds and aerosols.
  • Aura studies atmospheric chemistry, focusing on the distribution of key atmospheric pollutants and gases and how they change over time. Payload includes: High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES).

For free, full-size posters depicting optics in remote sensing, health care, metamaterials, nanotechnology, and other fields, visit spie.org/posters.   

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