Paula Cleggett-Haleim Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

(Phone: 202/453-1547)

April 22, 1991

Diane Ainsworth Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (Phone: 818/354-5011) RELEASE: 91-61 LORAL AWARDED ATMOSPHERIC SOUNDER CONTRACT NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., has awarded Loral Infrared & Imaging Systems, Lexington, Mass., a unit of the Loral Corp., a $145 million contract to design and build the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument to be flown on the first of the Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites. Under terms of the contract, Loral will design, develop and produce the first atmospheric sounder for delivery to JPL in 1996. AIRS will be a global thermometer in space and will be one of the world's premier monitors to study the effects of increased "greenhouse" gases in the Earth's atmosphere when the EOS-A series is launched. The EOS-A satellite is scheduled for flight beginning in 1998. "The primary goal of the EOS-A satellites is to study the effects of potential global warming by conducting longterm research into the key parameters of the Earth's surface and atmosphere," said Dr. Charles Elachi, director of JPL's Office of Space Science and Instruments. "Global changes are very complicated and require longterm monitoring," he said. "The EOS-A series will help determine the causes and extent of global climate changes

through a program of long-term observations." AIRS will be flown on the first EOS-A series of Earthobserving platforms, which will make global measurements of the Earth's oceans, land surface and lower and upper atmospheres from a polar Earth orbit. - more - 2The space-borne instrument will measure atmospheric temperature profiles with an accuracy of 1 degree Centigrade and provide data on atmospheric water vapor, cloud cover and sea- and land-surface temperatures. The AIRS investigation will be led by JPL Chief Scientist Dr. Moustafa Chahine. The AIRS sounder will operate continuously for 5 years, providing new and more accurate data about the Earth's atmosphere, surface and oceans for climate studies and weather predictions. Among the most important discoveries to be gleaned from infrared observations are humidity profiles and the temperature of land, oceans and the atmosphere. The sounders are based on Loral's advanced mercury cadmium telluride focal plane technology. The sounders measure temperatures by observing 3,600 wavelengths in the infrared spectrum via spectral dispersion -- such as in a prism -- across high-density linear sensors. Groundprocessing computer algorithms convert this data into global profiles of air and surface temperature. EOS is the centerpiece of NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth," a global-scale research program that will study the Earth as an integrated environmental system, focusing on the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surfaces and biosphere. "Mission to Planet Earth" is NASA's contribution to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a multi-agency federal program to observe the Earth, improve understanding of natural and human-induced global change and develop better models and predictive capabilities for interpreting

environmental changes. - end -

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