Two missions are currently vying to be ESA’s ninth Earth Explorer mission: the Far-infrared Outgoing Radiation Understanding and Monitoring (FORUM) concept and the Sea-surface Kinematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) concept.
A selection will be made following a user consultation meeting in July.
The FIRMOS instrument is a science demonstrator for the FORUM concept, which will help to understand how Earth is losing its cool by filling a critical missing piece of the climate jigsaw.
Taking the instrument to the top of the mountain. (ESA)
Specifically, FORUM would measure across Earth’s entire far-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including the 15–100 micrometre range, which has never before been achieved from space.
These measurements are important because Earth’s outgoing radiation at these wavelengths is strongly affected by water vapour and cirrus clouds, which in turn, play a key role in regulating surface temperatures. These measurements have particular relevance for understanding how these and other factors influence the greenhouse effect and, hence, climate change – a concern for society at large.
View from Zugspitze observatory. (ESA)
FORUM’s measurements would improve confidence in the accuracy of climate change assessments that form the basis for future policy decisions. Better understanding the complexity of our climate system ...