The European Space Agency (ESA) approved a new mission that aims to measure the climate changes that are happening on Earth. Its main objective will be to provide an accurate measure of the light reflected on Earth.
Known as Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio-Studies (TRUTHS), the mission was approved by ESA after a meeting with scientists and engineers from its member states.
The scientific aspect of the mission will be addressed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of Great Britain, which plans to equip the TRUTHS satellite with an instrument known as a cryogenic radiometer. This device is used to accurately measure the intensity of a light source.
Using this instrument in conjunction with a hyperspectral camera, TRUTHS will measure how much light is being reflected on the Earth’s surface. This includes the planet’s oceans, deserts, snow fields and forests.
As the data that will be collected by TRUTHS will be the first of its kind, it will serve as a standard for Earth’s reflectivity. They can be used and compared with new data that will be collected in future missions 10 to 15 years from now.
According to the scientists, the information that will be collected by the TRUTHS satellite may help policy makers to approve plans and regulations aimed at environmental issues.
By having a clear idea of the amount of light reflected on Earth, scientists will be able to monitor the planet’s climate fingerprint. Specifically, they will be able to measure the heat radiating from the planet. Future missions can use TRUTH data to check changes in Earth’s climate.
Professor Nigel Fox of the NPL said in a statement, according to BBC:
In doing so, we will be able to detect subtle changes much sooner than with our current observation system.
This will allow us to restrict and test climate forecasting models. Therefore, we will know earlier if the predicted temperatures that the models are giving us are consistent or not with the observations.
The TRUTHS mission does not yet have an exact launch date, but officials from ESA member states plan to deploy it sometime in 2026.