Scientists have noted these changes in the sun's energy by observing from Earth's surface for more than a hundred years, but were only able to begin to determine their magnitude and impact on Earth's climate with more accurate measurements from space, starting in 1978 with measurements of the "total solar irradiance," or TSI, made by
It is important to continue this TSI measurement record without a break in the data. The TCTE is designed to prevent such a break by continuing measurements from space to determine how solar changes are influencing Earth's climate.
A NOAA, Joint Polar Satellite System-sponsored mission, TCTE launched aboard U.S. Air Force Space Test Program Satellite-3,
Solar irradiance is currently measured by the Total Irradiance Monitor or TIM deployed in 2003 on
While SORCE was designed to last for five years, it is still recording data more than 10 years later, but the aging satellite is nearing the end of its battery life. It is critical for the continuity of the data stream to have both instruments overlap to allow for syncing the measurements, allowing the new more accurate TCTE calibration to be transferred to
Mission scientists hope for an overlap period of about ten days for the two instruments in space. After that period, because there are other instruments on the
"The basic input to the climate system is the sun. We need that basic measurement before we can do other science," said
The solar irradiance measurements achieved by the TIM deployed in 2003, and its near clone as part of TCTE, are significantly more accurate than their previous space-based predecessors, said
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