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NASA Picks Research Proposals to Study Arctic Warming, Mineral Dust Effects on Atmosphere

NASA has chosen two research projects to build space instruments that will study Arctic warming and the effects of mineral dust on the atmosphere.

The space agency said Tuesday it selected the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment, or PREFIRE, and the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation, or EMIT, among 14 proposals submitted for NASA’s fourth Earth Venture mission.

Earth Venture funds small science investigations that are designed to complement larger NASA missions.

PREFIRE will launch two small satellites called CubeSats to investigate Arctic warming, sea ice loss and ice-sheet melting.

The Arctic radiates excess energy from the sun back to space, helping to regulate Earth’s temperature.

PREFIRE will work to collect information on wavelengths of energy radiating from Earth that current satellite instruments cannot detect.

Tristan L’Ecuyer of the University of Wisconsin serves as principal investigator of PREFIRE and will work with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory.

EMIT will attach a sensor to the International Space Station to identify the mineral composition of natural sources that release dust aerosols across the world.

Robert Green of NASA JPL is the principal investigator of the mission, which will help determine whether dust aerosols have a warming or cooling effect on the atmosphere.

The EMIT sensor is partly based on NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft of India’s space agency.

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