Dusting off NISTAR to observe Earth from space

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  • Published: Dec 3, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Detectors / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Dusting off NISTAR to observe Earth from space

The mothballed NIST Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) that had been developed as part of the DSCOVR deep space climate observatory is now poised to make its impact in a launch scheduled for January 2015. DSCOVR, or Triana as it was known then, was due to be launched in 2002 but was removed one year earlier from the Space Shuttle program by the Bush administration due to budgetary issues.

After being stored in a clean room at Goddard Space Flight Center, DSCOVR has been recommissioned over the last few years under a mission to study the climate of Earth from a distance of 1.5 million kilometres.

NISTAR will study the radiance output from the sunlit Earth using four detectors: three active-cavity electrical substitution radiometers and one silicon photodiode channel. They will measure the energy balance of the Earth using:

  • a UV to far infrared (0.2 µm to 100 µm) channel to measure the total radiant power UV, VIS and IR wavelengths emerging from the Earth
  • a solar (0.2 µm to 4 µm) channel to measure reflected solar radiance in UV, VIS and NIR wavelengths
  • a near infrared (0.7 µm to 4 µm) channel to measure the reflected IR solar radiation
  • a photodiode channel (0.3 µm to 1.1 µm) for monitoring radiometer filter elements

Image: The NISTAR instrument, photo by NASA

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