REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 20, 2009 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) was awarded a contract by NASA Langley Research Center to build a sensor that measures the time and space distributions of incoming energy from the sun and outgoing thermal and reflected energy from Earth (known as Earth's radiation budget). The sensor will be integrated onto the first National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) spacecraft.
The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) sensor is the seventh in the line built by Northrop Grumman at its Redondo Beach, Calif., space systems manufacturing facility. The unit will be developed using many existing parts, creating a cost effective and low risk solution to extending these important climate measurements.
"CERES Flight Model 6 will extend continuous, precise, calibrated global measurements of the earth's radiation budget over nearly three decades to 2020," said Mark Folkman, director of Civil Sensor Systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "Our work with NASA Langley Research Center and the science community is creating a very valuable long-term record for climate scientists."
The CERES sensors measure the Earth's radiation balance, which is a critical part of the climate system and is directly influenced by changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols, cloud properties, and surface and atmospheric temperature. The CERES sensors are broadly acknowledged as the most accurate broadband climate sensors ever flown in space.
This sensor and an earlier generation of similar sensors also built by Northrop Grumman, called Earth Radiation Budget Experiment, have been capturing measurements of the reflected solar radiation and emitted thermal radiation over the Earth's surface since 1984.
Four CERES sensors are currently operational on NASA's Terra and Aqua Earth Observing Systems. Another unit has been delivered and integrated onto the NPOESS Preparatory Project and one unit completed its mission aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.
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