The measurement of change in the ozone layer is today operationally possible at a high temporal and spatial resolution in near real-time allowing ongoing updates of the effects of pollution.
'Star Wars' laser offers new insight into Earth's atmosphere
05 December 2011
With the need to understand global change one of today’s most pressing scientific challenges, ESA is exploring novel techniques for future space missions. Firing laser pulses between satellites is promising a step up in tracking greenhouse gases.
More renowned for their appeal as holiday destinations, the Spanish Canary Islands recently played host to an experiment that involved shooting laser beams from a peak on La Palma to Tenerife. Over the course of two weeks, the night sky lit up with green pulses of light between the two islands – looking more like a scene from a Star Wars film than an experiment to help understand Earth’s atmosphere.
The experiment was devised to test the concept of using ‘infrared differential absorption spectroscopy’ as a way of making extremely accurate measurements of trace gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
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