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A Continuous Record of Earth’s Radiation Budget

December 18, 2020 marks 20 years since the launch of two instruments that have changed the way scientists study climate.

The first two Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments (Flight Model [FM] 1 and FM2) launched aboard the Terra satellite Dec. 18, 1999, following the launch of the CERES proto-flight model (PFM) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite on Nov. 27, 1997.

Now numbering six, the CERES instruments in orbit keep watch on solar energy reflected by Earth, the heat the planet emits, and the role of clouds in that process. Essential to those measurements are the imagers that accompany the CERES instruments on the Terra, Aqua (FM3 and FM4), Suomi NPP (FM5) and NOAA 20 (FM6) satellites.

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