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Quick Facts
Mission Name SORCE: SOlar Radiation and Climate Experiment

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SORCE Mission Patch

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SORCE Poster (768 kb)
LASP Instruments Principal Investigator: Dr. Gary J. Rottman
Destination 645 km Earth Orbit
Launch Date January 25th, 2003
Launch Location Kennedy Space Center
Launch Vehicle Pegasus XL
Mission Duration 6 years
Mission Description/
LASP involvement
 
LASP Divisions Involved Engineering * Science * Operations
LASP Mission Web Page http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/
Official Mission Web Page http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/SORCE/

The Science and Goal

The total solar irradiance, or TSI, along with Earth's global average albedo, determines Earth's global average equilibrium temperature. Because of selective absorption and scattering processes in the Earth's atmosphere, different regions of the solar spectrum affect Earth's climate in distinct ways. Approximately 20 - 25 % of the TSI is absorbed by atmospheric water vapor, clouds, and ozone, by processes that are strongly wavelength dependent. Ultraviolet radiation at wavelengths below 300 nm is completely absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere and contributes the dominant energy source in the stratosphere and thermosphere, establishing the upper atmosphere's temperature, structure, composition, and dynamics. Even small variations in the Sun's radiation at these short wavelengths will lead to corresponding changes in atmospheric chemistry. Radiation at the longer visible and infrared wavelengths penetrates into the lower atmosphere, where the portion not reflected is partitioned between the troposphere and the Earth's surface, and becomes a dominant term in the global energy balance and an essential determinant of atmospheric stability and convection. Thus it is important to accurately monitor both the TSI and its spectral dependence.


LASP Involvement (more)
The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) is a free-flying satellite carrying four instruments to measure the solar radiation incident at the top of the Earth's atmosphere. LASP developed and built the four science instruments, and the science and mission operations are conducted from LASP's Mission Operations Center. LASP has full programmatic responsibility for this 5-year mission to further understand the influence of the Sun on the Earth system.
University of Colorado at Boulder

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