PIA26185: PREFIRE CubeSat in Earth Orbit (Artist's Concept)
 Target Name:  Earth
 Mission:  Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) 
 Spacecraft:  CubeSat
 Product Size:  1583 x 891 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26185.tif (1.666 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26185.jpg (47.7 kB)

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NASA's Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will measure the amount of heat Earth emits into space from two of the coldest, most remote regions on the planet. Data from the mission will improve computer models researchers use to predict how Earth's ice, seas, and weather will change in a warming world. This artist's concept depicts one of two PREFIRE CubeSats in orbit around Earth.

Earth absorbs a lot of the Sun's energy at the tropics, and weather and ocean currents transport that heat to the poles. Ice, snow, clouds, and other parts of the polar environment emit the heat into space, much of it in the form of far-infrared radiation. The difference between how much heat Earth absorbs at the tropics and then radiates out to space from the Arctic and Antarctic determines the planet's temperature and drives a dynamic system of climate and weather.

But far-infrared emissions at the poles have never been systematically measured. This is where PREFIRE comes in. The mission will help researchers gain a clearer understanding of when and where Earth's poles emit far-infrared radiation, as well as how atmospheric water vapor and clouds influence the amount that escapes to space.

PREFIRE is composed of two roughly shoebox-size CubeSats outfitted with specialized miniature heat sensors that will give researchers a more accurate picture of how much heat Earth emits into space.

The mission was jointly developed by NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate and provided the spectrometers. Blue Canyon Technologies built the CubeSats, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will process the data the instruments collect. The launch services provider is Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California.

To learn more about PREFIRE, visit:


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