PIA26186: PREFIRE CubeSat Image
 Target Name:  Earth
 Mission:  Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) 
 Spacecraft:  CubeSat
 Product Size:  6720 x 4480 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26186.tif (56.6 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26186.jpg (2.543 MB)

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This image shows one of two shoebox-size satellites that make up NASA's Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) mission. PREFIRE will measure the amount of heat Earth emits into space from two of the coldest, most remote regions on the planet. Data from the cube satellites, or CubeSats, will improve computer models researchers use to predict how Earth's ice, seas, and weather will change in a warming world.

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 this incoming and outgoing heat helps to 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 crucial instrument on each spacecraft is a thermal infrared spectrometer, which will measure wavelengths of light in the far-infrared range.

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 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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