What is it about?

The earth’s atmosphere is divided into different layers. The lowest layer is called the troposphere. The next layer up is called the stratosphere. The bit where these two meet is called the upper troposphere–lower stratosphere region (UTLS). This region has a big effect on our climate. For example, the level of ozone there affects how much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches earth. So it’s important we understand as much as possible about this layer of our atmosphere and what affects it. Recently, scientists have developed new technologies that can take more detailed ‘pictures’ of gases in the atmosphere. This project involved the design and testing of a balloon-like satellite that can carry the device that takes these ‘pictures’. The satellite is built from commonly available materials. The scientists hope that others will now be able to build and use similar satellites, and that we’ll be able to gather much more information about the UTLS. The balloon was successfully flown for the first time in Canada in 2019. There were a few teething problems but the main goals of the project were met.

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Why is it important?

KEY TAKEAWAY: This new technology will make it easier for scientists to gather more information about greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This helps us to monitor climate change. The more we know about how gas levels are changing, the more we can be sure of whether our efforts to tackle climate change are working.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A balloon-borne imaging Fourier transform spectrometer for atmospheric trace gas profiling, Review of Scientific Instruments, September 2021, American Institute of Physics,
DOI: 10.1063/5.0060125.
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