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Tiny NASA satellite maps global ice clouds

IANS  |  Washington 

A has captured the first global picture of the small frozen particles inside clouds, normally called clouds, NASA has said.

clouds start as tiny particles high in the atmosphere. Absorbing moisture, the crystals grow and become heavier, causing them to fall to lower altitudes. Eventually, the particles get so heavy, they fall and melt to form rain drops. The ice crystals may also just stay in the air.

Like other clouds, ice clouds affect Earth's budget by either reflecting or absorbing the Sun's and by affecting the emission of heat from Earth into space. Thus, ice clouds are key variables in weather and climate models.

"Heavy downpours originate from ice clouds," said Dong Wu, IceCube at NASA's in Greenbelt,

Measuring atmospheric ice on a global scale remains highly uncertain because satellites have been unable to detect the amount of small ice particles inside the clouds, as these particles are too opaque for infrared and visible sensors to penetrate.

The experimental small satellite, IceCube, deployed from the (ISS) in May 2017, has filled this void, NASA said on Tuesday.

To overcome that limitation, IceCube was outfitted with a submillimeter radiometer that bridges the missing sensitivity between infrared and wavelengths.

Despite weighing only 10 pounds, IceCube is a bona fide spacecraft, complete with three-axis attitude control, deployable solar arrays and a

Originally a 30-day technology-demonstration mission, IceCube is still fully operational in low-Earth orbit almost a year later, measuring ice clouds and providing data that's "good enough to do some real science," Wu said.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 13:02 IST