Dr Dyrud’s team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory has won a space on CubeSat for a radiometer that will provide direct measurements of the amount of solar energy reflected to space, and the amount of infrared radiation getting through Earth’s atmosphere into space. What’s awesome about this instrument is that it will give real-time measurements of how much aerosols, clouds, and the oceans are contributing to modulation of these energies. Should the radiometer work out on this platform, a constellation of these CubeSats could be deployed which would provide more comprehensive and more rapid assessments of variation, even regional ones. This is feasible since CubeSat is relatively inexpensive, small, lightweight, and so can ride into orbit on small rockets, or hitch rides on other payloads, even launched from the International Space Station.
Dyrud’s radiometer, called RAVAN, uses vertically aligned carbon nanotubes and a gallium blackbody reference source.