Novel NASA Instrument Sets Sights on Earth-bound Solar Radiation

From NASA

A very small instrument has a big job ahead of it: measuring all Earth-directed energy coming from the Sun and helping scientists understand how that energy influences our planet’s severe weather, climate change and other global forces.

About the size of a shoebox or gaming console, the Compact Total Irradiance Monitor (CTIM) is the smallest satellite ever dispatched to observe the sum of all solar energy Earth receives from the Sun — also known as “total solar irradiance.”

CTIM-FD is an eight-channel, 6U CubeSat that will spend one year in orbit to see if small satellites can be as effective at measuring Total Solar Irradiance as larger sensors like the Total Irradiance Monitor instrument used aboard the SORCE and TSIS-1 missions.
Credits: NASA/Willaman Creative

Total solar irradiance is a major component of the Earth radiation budget, which tracks the balance between incoming and outgoing solar energy. Increased amounts of greenhouse gases emitted from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, trap increased amounts of solar energy within Earth’s atmosphere.

That increased energy raises global temperatures and changes Earth’s climate, which in turn drives things like rising sea levels and severe weather.

“By far the dominant energy input to Earth’s climate comes from the Sun,” said Dave Harber, a senior researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and principal investigator for CTIM. “It’s a key input for predictive models forecasting how Earth’s climate might change over time.” 

NASA missions like the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment and NASA instruments like CERES have allowed climate scientists to maintain an unbroken  record of total solar irradiance stretching back 40 years. This enabled researchers to rule out increased solar energy as a culprit for climate change and recognize the role greenhouse gases play in global warming.

Ensuring that record remains unbroken is of paramount importance to Earth scientists. With an unbroken total solar irradiance record, researchers can detect small fluctuations in the amount of solar radiation Earth receives during the solar cycle, as well as emphasize the impact greenhouse gas emissions have on Earth’s climate.

For example, last year, researchers from NASA and NOAA relied on the unbroken total solar irradiance record to determine that, between 2005 and 2019, the amount of solar radiation that remains in Earth’s atmosphere nearly doubled.

“In order to make sure we can continue to collect these measurements, we need to make instruments as efficient and cost-effective as possible,” Harber said.

CTIM is a prototype: its flight demonstration will help scientists determine if small satellites could be as effective at measuring total solar irradiance as larger instruments, such as the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument used aboard the completed SORCE mission and the ongoing TSIS-1 mission on the International Space Station. If successful, the prototype will advance the approaches used for future instruments.

CTIM’s radiation detector takes advantage of a new carbon nanotube material that absorbs 99.995% of incoming light. This makes it uniquely well suited for measuring total solar irradiance.

LASP researchers working on CTIM at the University of Colorado, Boulder. About the size of a shoebox, CTIM is the smallest instrument ever dispatched to study total solar irradiance.
LASP researchers working on CTIM at the University of Colorado, Boulder. About the size of a shoebox, CTIM is the smallest instrument ever dispatched to study total solar irradiance.
Credits: Tim Hellickson / University of Colorado, Boulder

Reducing a satellite’s size reduces the cost and complexity of deploying that satellite into low-Earth orbit. That allows scientists to prepare spare instruments that can preserve the TSI data record should an existing instrument malfunction. 

CTIM’s novel radiation detector – also known as a bolometer – takes advantage of a new material developed alongside researchers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

 “It looks a bit like a very, very dark shag carpet. It was the blackest substance humans had ever manufactured when it was first created, and it continues to be an exceptionally useful material for observing TSI,” Harber said.

Made of minuscule carbon nanotubes arranged vertically on a silicon wafer, the material absorbs nearly all light along the electromagnetic spectrum.

Together, CTIM’s two bolometers take up less space than the face of a quarter. This allowed Harber and his team to develop a tiny instrument fit for gathering total irradiance data from a small CubeSat platform.

A sister instrument, the Compact Spectral Irradiance Monitor (CSIM), used the same bolometers in 2019 to successfully explore variability within bands of light present in sunlight. Future NASA missions may merge CTIM and CSIM into a single compact tool for both measuring and dissecting solar radiation.

“Now we’re asking ourselves, ‘How do we take what we’ve developed with CSIM and CTIM and integrate them together,’” Harber said.

Harber expects CTIM to begin collecting data about a month after launch, currently scheduled for June 30, 2022, aboard STP-28A, a Space Force mission executed by Virgin Orbit. Once Harber and his LASP colleagues unfold CTIM’s solar panels and check each of its subsystems, they will activate CTIM. It’s a delicate process, one that requires diligence and extreme care.

“We want to take our time and make sure that we’re doing these steps rigorously, and that each component of this instrument is working correctly before we move on to the next step,” Harber said. “Just demonstrating that we can gather these measurements with a CubeSat would be a big deal. That would be very gratifying.”

Funded through the InVEST program in NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office, CTIM launches from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California aboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket as part of the United States Space Force STP-S28A mission.

Another NASA graduate from the InVEST technology program, NACHOS-2, will also be aboard. A NACHOS twin, NACHOS-2 will help the Department of Energy monitor trace gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

By Gage Taylor
NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office

Banner Image: NASA’s Compact Total Irradiance Monitor (CTIM) instrument, which will help researchers better understand how solar energy impacts innumerable Earth systems. Credit: Tim Hellickson / University of Colorado, Boulder

Last Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Editor: Ellen Gray

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. A.KcTaz
July 8, 2022 2:07 am

Did NASA build in “adjustments” to raw data this time so, unlike with temperature data, they don’t have to bother changing it later if the data doesn’t fit the CAGW theory?

Vuk
Reply to  . A.KcTaz
July 8, 2022 4:02 am

I am not convinced that all this instrumentation gives accurate measurements due to exposure to solar magnetic radiation which increases in step with solar activity. On the attached graph you can see that for the last 30 years at the time of the solar peak radiation (SSN inverted scale) the UAH reading falls.

UAH-SSN21.gif
RickWill
July 8, 2022 2:13 am

This enabled researchers to rule out increased solar energy as a culprit for climate change and recognize the role greenhouse gases play in global warming.

This shows a lack of appreciation about Earth’s orbit and how Earth presents to the sun. Since 1980, Earth has received considerably higher solar intensity over most of the globe due to orbital changes. The Southern Ocean is the only location experiencing less and it shows a downward trend..

The Equatorial ocean, specifically Nino34, stuck close to the immutable limit of 30C.

The NECP/Reynolds SST data reflects the changes in solar intensity and the 30C limit – per attached.

NCEP_Three_Trends.png
fretslider
Reply to  RickWill
July 8, 2022 2:43 am

Nor does it account for the ‘local’ inter stellar environment

Wim Röst
Reply to  RickWill
July 10, 2022 1:40 am

The 25N to 35N graphic is most interesting. It shows the highest SST warming, a trend of 2.1°C per century. Combine that with fewer clouds and warming. See the graphic on page 54 here: http://www.climate4you.com/Text/Climate4you_May_2022.pdf

Because fewer clouds and warming over 25N to 35N result in a higher salinity, I am very interested in the graphic for just the North Atlantic Gyre. Could you produce that?

A higher salinity in the North Atlantic could be the cause of Arctic Ice Melt and of Northern Hemisphere warming: saltier North Atlantic water earlier sinks earlier into surrounding waters and following the normal pattern, will subsurface flow into the Arctic. The warmer water melts the Arctic Ice and changes the weather, not only over the Arctic but over large parts of the Earth. With more water vapor filling the air, especially over colder higher latitudes, the greenhouse effect (my guess: temporarily) is enhanced. The Arctic is the fastest-warming region.

H B
July 8, 2022 2:45 am

And particle flux and magnetic effects ??

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  H B
July 8, 2022 3:49 am

They’re only interested in TSI.

Michael ElliottMichael Elliott
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
July 8, 2022 4:03 am

Do any of the existing satilites measure the Suns magnetic field and,/or incoming “Cosmic Rays”.

Michael VK5ELL

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Michael ElliottMichael Elliott
July 8, 2022 4:13 am

Dunno, don’t care. I was just pointing out that this mission is about TSI.
If you think it’s important that they measure something else then drop them a line.
I think this climate change nonsense is….nonsense. I’m not getting my knickers in a twist over it.

MarkW
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
July 8, 2022 8:38 am

TSI changes support the theory that the sun can’t possibly be responsible for climate changes, so they want to pretend that TSI is the only thing that matters. Most of them won’t even acknowledge that there are other things that the sun does that impact climate.

Beyond that, we have only been accurately monitoring TSI for a few decades, yet we are trying to understand cycles that go back centuries, even millennia.

Mario Lento
Reply to  MarkW
July 8, 2022 9:03 am

Right on! The way they write their statements gives away their agenda. “We know the answer and need to confirm it, give us money.”
And so, all kinds of holes should be poked into their confirmation-biased preclusions.

rbabcock
Reply to  H B
July 8, 2022 6:05 am

I can’t understand why particle flux and magnetic effects aren’t considered big time. Both have profound effects on the amount of energy actually delivered to Earth and the Earth’s response to it and also even effects TSI. With the decreasing Earth’s Magnetic Field, this will become even more important. Maybe one day there will be someone come along with a clean sheet look at all this instead of regurgitating the usual cr@p.

Sparko
Reply to  rbabcock
July 8, 2022 7:29 pm

I think there are people looking at it.

Tom Abbott
July 8, 2022 4:10 am

From the article: “Increased amounts of greenhouse gases emitted from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, trap increased amounts of solar energy within Earth’s atmosphere.That increased energy raises global temperatures and changes Earth’s climate, which in turn drives things like rising sea levels and severe weather.”

That’s the claim. Where’s the evidence? Answer: There is no evidence. The above is pure speculation not backed by facts.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 8, 2022 4:16 am

If you are selling a cross to a church you tell them you are a christian.

MarkW
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
July 8, 2022 8:41 am

They aren’t selling anything to anybody. The satellite is already built and has been launched.
This a press release making the announcement. Such a claim is nothing more than a continuation of the propaganda.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  MarkW
July 8, 2022 7:00 pm

A contractor supplying instruments to NASA will be using NASA narrative.

July 8, 2022 4:27 am

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  zee raja
July 8, 2022 4:34 am

I wonder if we can use the unquenchable fire to generate electricity?
Does it emit CO2? Sounds like a lithium battery fire.

Last edited 2 months ago by Alexy Scherbakoff
MarkW
Reply to  zee raja
July 8, 2022 8:42 am

And what does that have to do with the topic at hand?

Old Man Winter
July 8, 2022 4:40 am

“Increased amounts of greenhouse gases emitted from human activities, such as burning
fossil fuels, trap increased amounts of solar energy within Earth’s atmosphere.”

“This enabled researchers to rule out increased solar energy as a culprit for climate change and recognize the role greenhouse gases play in global warming.”

trap- standard inaccurate propaganda word- = job security, added drama

culprit- How many scientists refer to data as being a culprit? GHGs are guilty as charged!

Gage must be an Agatha Christie wannabe, using “trap” & “culprit” to add drama to an ordinary
news release. A bit over the top!

Last edited 2 months ago by Old Man Winter
Peta of Newark
Reply to  Old Man Winter
July 8, 2022 5:29 am

Yes the Green House Gases trap solar radiation – notably CO2 at wavelength/temps of 400 and 800 Celsius.
That effectively is the experiment Tyndall did – he used boiling water as his temp/energy source and also his temp reference but – even things at 100Celsius radiate at 400°C and (a small amount) at 800°C
And THAT is what Tyndall recorded.

But wait, if the atmosphere is intercepting incoming solar as they assert, surely Shirley that means less energy is making it down to the ground.
(The atmosphere can not ‘force’ the surface. It can and does radiate (contradicting Jim Steele for a start) but because the atmosphere is always colder than everywhere below it, that radiation is simply bounced, scattered, reflected whatevered but it is NOT absorbed.

OK, so the atmosphere is warming but is The Surface (dirt, soil, water) also warming?
The GHGE, as explained by NASA themselves here say, those places are not warming – they cannot be because they’re receiving less solar energy

So why do thermometers near the ground, a placed in little white boxes, record increasing temperatures?
2 reasons….

  1. Soil Erosion (increasing Albedo due to ploughing, burning and tillage
  2. City building

The soil erosion being itself in 2 parts:

  • Darkening of the surface
  • Reduction of water content of the soils (less cooling from evaporation)

That’s it and NASA has just told us so, but they are so fixated on their little toys that they don’t realise. Don’t care, don’t want to care. Except about themselves and Future Funding.
(If they don’t wake their ideas up a bit more than this: there will be No Future)

In any case, their instrument is pathetic and childish, even before it is ‘Darker than a really dark thing”

Find out what the Ultraviolet Catastrophe was all about – the colour of the sun is vastly important
One small example being the source of All Life On Earth: Plants.

Baby plants of all (haha) colours grow better faster under light biased towards the blue whereas mature plants grow better and thrive more under light biased toward the red end of the spectrum

Its just as well all plants on Earth are made of Carbon Fibre Nanotubes and are the size of dimes, doncha think…….

Last edited 2 months ago by Peta of Newark
Old Man Winter
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 8, 2022 6:53 am

trap- if the sun were to stop shining, would the T stay where it is now? There’s a lot of
leakage with the 900k+ ppms that aren’t GHGs that will aid & abet the cooling!

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 8, 2022 8:16 am

….that radiation is simply bounced, scattered, reflected whatevered but it is NOT absorbed.

Peta….You better let those photons know that they aren’t absorbed….

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 8, 2022 10:51 pm

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Louis Hunt
July 8, 2022 5:25 am

“…between 2005 and 2019, the amount of solar radiation that remains in Earth’s atmosphere nearly doubled.

To measure the amount of solar radiation that remains in Earth’s atmosphere, don’t they have to measure both the incoming and outgoing radiation? Does this satellite do that, or is there another one that measures outgoing radiation?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 8, 2022 7:49 am

“…between 2005 and 2019, the amount of solar radiation that remains in Earth’s atmosphere nearly doubled.”

Well, it’s certainly hard to resolve that statement with the observational record that we have had a pause/hiatus in a global temperature warming for the last 7 years and 10 months (ref: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/07/02/the-new-pause-lengthens-to-7-years-10-months/ ) . . . that would be starting back in September 2014, which is well before 2019.

Extra solar radiation: olley olley oxen free . . . come out, come out wherever you are.

Doonman
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
July 8, 2022 9:15 am

It’s hiding in the ocean. Oh wait, that’s the heat from re-radiation of solar energy that CO2 traps that is hiding in the ocean. So apparently, the ocean traps energy from incoming solar and then traps the re-radiated energy as well.

So why haven’t the oceans all boiled away by now?

MarkW
Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 8, 2022 8:45 am

If the amount that is retained in the atmosphere had doubled, then the temperature would have gone up by way more than a tenth of a degree.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  MarkW
July 8, 2022 10:53 pm

2×0=0

Jim Gorman
July 8, 2022 5:28 am

From following the article and definitions that NASA uses.

We show that independent satellite and in situ observations each yield statistically indistinguishable decadal increases in EEI from mid-2005 to mid-2019 of 0.50 ± 0.47 W m−2 decade−1 (5%–95% confidence interval). “

The uncertainty interval is so large that one can assume that NASA doesn’t have a clue what the actual value truly is. Also, this value is so low that uncertainty in the effects of clouds far outweighs what changes are seen.

Bill Powers
July 8, 2022 6:16 am

If the instrument is operated by government, any government will do in this case, and the data is collected and reported out by bureaucrats, read University type yes men with long tongues for a**licking leading to enrichment, then we cannot trust it to do anything but support the Davos Agenda i.e. prevent the great unwashed from using up OUR fossil fuel.

Reply to  Bill Powers
July 8, 2022 7:50 am

What is new about this instrument, other than it is small?

MarkW
Reply to  Curious George
July 8, 2022 8:48 am

When it comes to satellites, small means less expensive.

Last edited 2 months ago by MarkW
Doonman
Reply to  MarkW
July 8, 2022 9:32 am

NASA’s budget for 2022 is 24 billion, the largest budget it has ever received since its formation in 1958.

MarkW
Reply to  Doonman
July 8, 2022 11:07 am

Spending less on each satellite still allows them to do more stuff with the budget they have.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Curious George
July 8, 2022 12:09 pm

It uses bolometers with this new carbon absorber instead of an absolute cavity radiometer.

mkelly
July 8, 2022 6:59 am

Fro the article:”…minuscule carbon nanotubes…”

So they are going to use pollution the measure sunlight. They are spreading that carbon pollution out into space. This is not acceptable.

Where is Griff demanding the suspension of this polluting project? This black things are going to trap heat according to them with over 99.9% trapped.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  mkelly
July 8, 2022 7:57 am

There is no such thing as “trapping” heat (energy) without, in a very short time, achieving a near-equilibrium temperature such that the “trapping” object is radiating (or conducting or convecting) away the exact amount of the incoming energy.

If this were not the case, the “trapping” object would continually increase in temperature until it no longer existed (i.e., melted or vaporized).

Physical objects can only absorb a relatively small amount of energy.

Last edited 2 months ago by Gordon A. Dressler
mkelly
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
July 8, 2022 9:07 am

Gordon I am sorry you missed the words “according to them” in my post.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  mkelly
July 8, 2022 9:17 am

I was expounding on your comment, not arguing against or contradicting what you posted.

My apology if you took offense to my comment.

Gordon A. Dressler
July 8, 2022 7:33 am

From the very first sentence in the above NASA article/PR:
“A very small instrument has a big job ahead of it: measuring all Earth-directed energy coming from the Sun . . .”

That indeed is a tall order, since the Sun radiates more-or-less isotropically (with allowance for the occasional and randomly-located sunspots and solar flares/CMEs).

In other words, who knew that the Sun was directing energy specifically at Earth?

IMHO, it’s time for some editors in NASA’s public affairs office to wake up and get to work.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
July 8, 2022 8:50 am

If they measured all of the Earth-directed energy, would there be any energy left to actually reach the earth?

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
July 8, 2022 12:11 pm

Typical tech writer technobabble.

Joao Martins
July 8, 2022 8:00 am

Novel NASA Instrument Sets Sights on Earth-bound Solar Radiation

Realy!?

I mean: REALY !?

Have they succeded in putting Greta inside the contraption that will see Earth radiation?

Last edited 2 months ago by Joao Martins
Lance Wallace
July 8, 2022 8:42 am

Harber expects CTIM to begin collecting data about a month after launch, currently scheduled for June 30, 2022, aboard STP-28A, a Space Force mission executed by Virgin Orbit

Did it fly on June 22?

Lance Wallace
July 8, 2022 8:42 am

June 30

Lance Wallace
July 8, 2022 8:45 am

NSA site does not respond to searching for CTIM or CTIM-FD

Lance Wallace
July 8, 2022 8:51 am

The link to the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment goes to a 1996 document. The link in that document to the ERBE website gets a 404 response.

Doonman
July 8, 2022 9:05 am

NASA claims:

CERES have allowed climate scientists to maintain an unbroken record of total solar irradiance stretching back 40 years. This enabled researchers to rule out increased solar energy as a culprit for climate change and recognize the role greenhouse gases play in global warming.

NASA further claims that with the CTIM:

researchers can detect small fluctuations in the amount of solar radiation Earth receives during the solar cycle, as well as emphasize the impact greenhouse gas emissions have on Earth’s climate.

So the entire project is designed to measure changes in solar radiation that NASA already claims have no effect on climate change, the subject being studied. That seems to be the essence of a boondoggle to me.

stinkerp
July 8, 2022 12:06 pm

Better instruments to monitor the atmosphere globally should help us better understand what’s going on, but the unverified and preconceived assumptions are problematic.

“…enabled researchers to rule out increased solar energy as a culprit for climate change and recognize the role greenhouse gases play in global warming”

Have they ever explained why the earth warmed by half a degree Celsius or so in the 19th century long before industrial “greenhouse” emissions would have any impact on Earth’s radiation budget? No? Then global warming is still a mystery remaining to be solved, though CO2 may be a (minor?) contributing factor in the late 20th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age#/media/File:2000+_year_global_temperature_including_Medieval_Warm_Period_and_Little_Ice_Age_-_Ed_Hawkins.svg

Last edited 2 months ago by stinkerp
Olen
July 8, 2022 12:27 pm

Maybe it will be useful but to deploy it to promote climate change as they define it is not useful.

john harmsworth
July 8, 2022 1:06 pm

So let me get this straight. “Global warming is a crisis of such proportion that we absolutely have to completely upend our existence and lifestyle, It’s been getting more and more serious for 50 years, with multiple warnings of 5 years,10 years, 12 years until existential disaster cannot be averted. Yet they couldn’t arse themselves to put a shoebox sized satellite into orbit to study the single most fundamental input to the system until now. Got it! that’s how “critical” this all was!

Stephen Lindsay-Yule
July 8, 2022 1:31 pm

“Increased amounts of greenhouse gases emitted from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, trap increased amounts of solar energy within Earth’s atmosphere.
That increased energy raises global temperatures and changes Earth’s climate, which in turn drives things like rising sea levels and severe weather.”

This statement needs a rethink.
Incoming solar energy average 1360 watts per square meter. The sun distance determines how much energy earth receives. In January the sun’s distance is closest but the good thing is the sun is over mostly ocean. Snow and ice cool’s the earth 91 watts per square meter below the total solar irradiance (1407 watts per square meter). In July the sun’s distance is furthest but over mostly heat absorbing land. The earth warms 91 watts per square meter above the total solar irradiance (1316 watts per square meter).

Analysis has shown that solar energy is absorbed by greenhouse gases to very low gas temperatures. The higher the altitude the shorter the wavelengths absorbed. The less dense the gases are the more heat is absorbed. This happens in the stratosphere. Proof shows this has no affect on surface temperatures. Example in December 10hpa warms to negative 9 degrees Celsius over Antarctic. In July 10pha is negative 87 degrees Celsius. If greenhouse gases heated the surface all the ice on Antarctic would be gone.
.

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