NASA recently launched an exciting new mission aimed at studying the Earth's polar regions, and it turns out that Wisconsin is playing a crucial part in this mission.

What is the Mission?

The PREFIRE mission, short for Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment, is the brainchild of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA. This project involves two small satellites, each about the size of a shoebox, one of which was launched into orbit on Saturday, and the other will be launched in the coming days.

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PREFIRE - NASA
PREFIRE - NASA
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The project aims to "fill a gap in our understanding of the Earth system – providing our scientists a detailed picture of how Earth's polar regions influence how much energy our planet absorbs and releases," according to Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division.

prefirelaunch-5-25-24
NASA
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Why Is This Mission So Important?

Well, the polar regions are like Earth's thermostat, regulating the planet's temperature by venting excess heat. By understanding how much heat is escaping from these regions, scientists can gain valuable insights into how our planet's climate is changing and make more accurate predictions about the future.

What is The University of Wisconsin Doing for The Mission?

The tiny "CubeSats" will collect data using a thermal infrared spectrometer, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will process the data the instruments collect. This information will be invaluable for communities around the world, helping them adapt to the challenges of a changing climate. For example, farmers can use this data to plan for shifts in weather patterns, while coastal cities can prepare for rising sea levels.

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