NASA has sent a telescope into space to measure the amount of light reflected off the Moon to improve the accuracy and consistency of measurements among Earth-observing satellites.
The airborne Lunar Spectral Irradiance, or air-LUSI, flew aboard NASA’s ER-2 craft to accurately reflected moonlight.
Using the Moon as a “tuning fork,” scientists can more easily compare data from different satellites to look at global changes over long periods, the US space agency said late on Monday.
“The Moon is extraordinarily stable and not influenced by factors on Earth-like climate to any giant degree. It becomes a very good calibration reference, an independent benchmark, by which we can set our instruments and see what is happening with our planet,” said air-LUSI’s scientist, Kevin Turpie from the University of Maryland in America.
NASA has over twenty Earth-observing satellites that provide researchers with a global perspective on the interconnected Earth system.
The air-LUSI could be a telescope that measures how much light is reflected off the lunar surface to assess the number of surface-to-assess amount of energy Earth-observing satellites receive from moonlight.
To enhance the accuracy of lunar reflectance models, air-LUSI measurements are correct with one percent uncertainty.
This airborne approach has the advantage of studying moonlight during different phases of the Moon while bringing the instrument back between flights for evaluation, maintenance, and, if necessary, repair, according to NASA.
“Once air-LUSI measurements are used to improve the accuracy of the total amount of light coming from the Moon, we can take extensively more accurate measurements of Earth using current and future space-borne observatories,” said Turpie.