NASA’s new instrument Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1) installed on the International Space Station (ISS) will help scientists track and measure the Sun’s incoming energy.
According to the space agency TSIS-1 is now fully operational with all instruments collecting science data. TSIS-1 was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 15, 2017. The operations team at the University of Colorado has been testing TSIS-1 for over two months.
Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the US, has said that TSIS-1 will help extend the long data record that helps scientists understand what influence the Sun has on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, as well as the effects of solar variability on the Earth system and climate change.
Wu explained that the information and data collected by the sensor will give them a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate.
TSIS-1 is reportedly using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard, to study the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun. The Spectral Irradiance Monitor, which is the second onboard sensor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light.
It is important to measure the Sun’s energy as each wavelength of light interacts with Earth’s atmosphere in a different way. Like for instance, it is critical to measure the spectral irradiance of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation to understand the ozone layer.
Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in the US, has confirmed that all systems are operating within their expected ranges. The monitor first started collecting data on January 11. It experienced first light on March 4 when full science data collection began.