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How Scientists are Using the International Space Station to Study Climate

On Earth, we often look towards the sky longing to know more about what resides in the rest of the Universe. Meanwhile, 250 miles above our planet, the International Space Station is looking back. Above us, multiple Earth-observing instruments are mounted on the exterior of several of the station’s modules, including a limb full of cameras, boxes, and tools that hangs off the edge of the station’s Japanese Experiment Module.

“If you don’t have a good understanding of how things might change, you are in a very poor position to be able to handle it when they do,” says William Stefanov, manager of the Exploration Science Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

The weather reflects the condition of the atmosphere over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere behaves over decades, hundreds of years, or even geological time spans, says Stefanov. It extends us to only one conclusion that the factors which influence the climate might be traced over long periods. Its more than 20 years in orbit makes the space station a great place to collect long-term data. The combined information creates a unique crest of data that helps us inform climate decisions and potentially develop solutions to environmental issues.

Over the past few years, environmental issues have increased and gauged up to exponential numbers. The threat has been predicted with the help of various scientists on the International Space Station. The space station affords a unique planetary perspective with an orbital party passing over 90 percent of the Earth’s population. The orbit generally allows the space station to pass over different spots of Earth at different times of day or night and collect data. It’s fundamentally a different set as seen to the typical remote sensing instruments in detecting Earth’s climate purview.

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