NASA satellite ends 17-year mission measuring the sun’s impact on climate

Posted: April 12, 2020 by oldbrew in Measurement, Natural Variation, News, research
Tags: , ,

NASA claims humans now have 50 times more influence on temperatures than the Sun, according to this report. But they don’t link to any supporting evidence so we’re back to alarmist assertions and numbers pulled out of the sky, as usual.

NASA has shut down a spacecraft that measured the amount of solar energy entering Earth’s atmosphere for 17 years, more than three times the mission’s original design life, reports Spaceflight Now.

The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, mission ended Feb. 25 after the spacecraft labored through battery problems for years until NASA could launch a replacement.

SORCE’s four science instruments monitored the amount, spectrum and fluctuations in solar energy entering Earth’s atmosphere, according to NASA. Measurements of the solar energy, called solar irradiance, helps scientists understand how much variations in the sun’s output are responsible for Earth’s changing climate.

“These measurements are important for two reasons,” said Dong Wu, project scientist for SORCE at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Climate scientists need to know how much the sun varies, so they know how much change in the Earth’s climate is due to solar variation.

“Secondly, we’ve debated for years, is the sun getting brighter or dimmer over hundreds of years? We live only a short period, but an accurate trend will become very important,” Wu said in a statement. “If you know how the sun is varying and can extend that knowledge into the future, you can then put the anticipated future solar input into climate models together with other information, like trace gas concentrations, to estimate what our future climate will be.”

NASA says that greenhouse gas emissions coming from human activity has had more than 50 times the influence of the slight increase in solar energy in causing warming temperatures on Earth since 1750.

Built by Orbital Sciences Corp., the SORCE spacecraft flew into orbit Jan. 25, 2003, on an air-launched Pegasus XL rocket dropped over the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida.

The mission was designed to last at least five years, but SORCE accumulated 17 years of measurements before NASA ended spacecraft operations in February.

SORCE provided more accurate measurements of solar irradiance than previous space missions.

“The mission length also enabled valuable measurements during two of the sun’s 11-year cycles,” wrote Eric Moyer, deputy project manager for NASA’s Earth science mission operations. “SORCE data provide a unique understanding of how the flow of energy from the sun varies and how these variations impact Earth’s weather, climate systems, and, ultimately, all life on Earth that depends on solar irradiance.”

Eight years into the mission, SORCE suffered from battery degradation that began to impact operations. The battery issues eventually prevented SORCE from full-time measurements, and ground teams switched to a daytime-only observations.

The change effectively allowed SORCE to operate with no functioning battery, keeping the mission going until a replacement could be developed and launched. NASA’s Glory spacecraft, which would have continued SORCE’s observations, was lost in a launch failure in 2011.

Full report here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    An alternative look at the Sun’s impact on the climate:

    Solar Changes and the Climate
    Joseph D’Aleo

    Though the sun’s brightness or irradiance changes only slightly with the solar cycles, the indirect effects of enhanced solar activity including warming of the atmosphere in low and mid-latitudes by ozone reactions due to increased ultraviolet radiation, in higher latitudes by geomagnetic activity and generally by increased radiative forcing due to less clouds caused by cosmic ray reduction may greatly magnify the total solar effect on temperatures. The sun appears to be the primary driver right up to the current time.

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    It’s a slightly misleading piece. 99% or more of the climate is due to the sun – you can tell that by the seasons and by night and day! The question is, how much does the climate vary from period to period, and how much of that is due to changes in the sun?

    I’d say not sure and don’t know

  3. oldbrew says:

    Researchers Say Sun Cycle Alters Earth’s Climate

    If the energy from the sun varies by only 0.1 percent during the 11-year solar cycle, could such a small variation drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth? Yes, say researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) who used more than a century of weather observations and three powerful computer models in their study. They found subtle connections between solar cycle, the stratosphere, and the tropical Pacific Ocean that work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect much of the globe. Scientists say this will help in predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

    “The Sun, the stratosphere, and the oceans are connected in ways that can influence events such as winter rainfall in North America,” says NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, the lead author. “Understanding the role of the solar cycle can provide added insight as scientists work toward predicting regional weather patterns for the next couple of decades.”
    – – –
    Also from NASA, but back in 2003…

    The intensity of the Sun varies along with the 11-year sunspot cycle. When sunspots are numerous the solar constant is high (about 1367 W/m2); when sunspots are scarce the value is low (about 1365 W/m2). Eleven years isn’t the only “beat,” however. The solar constant can fluctuate by ~0.1% over days and weeks as sunspots grow and dissipate. The solar constant also drifts by 0.2% to 0.6% over many centuries, according to scientists who study tree rings.

    These small changes can affect Earth in a big way. For example, between 1645 and 1715 (a period astronomers call the “Maunder Minimum”) the sunspot cycle stopped; the face of the Sun was nearly blank for 70 years. At the same time Europe was hit by an extraordinary cold spell: the Thames River in London froze, glaciers advanced in the Alps, and northern sea ice increased. An earlier centuries-long surge in solar activity (inferred from studies of tree rings) had the opposite effect: Vikings were able to settle the thawed-out coast of Greenland in the 980s, and even grow enough wheat there to export the surplus to Scandinavia.

    Back then it was ‘These small changes can affect Earth in a big way’ 🤔

  4. oldbrew says:

    I did laugh 😆

  5. wilpretty says:

    Lunar warming – isn’t it obvious, the moon has been warmed by the record temperatures of the Earth.

  6. Dan says:

    “… ground teams switched to a daytime-only observations…”

    Yeah, let’s not observe the sun at night. What a waste of batteries.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Dan – see here:

    By looking at the 18 bright blue stars and comparing them to the Sun, scientists can calibrate the SOLSTICE instrument. As SORCE passes through the night-time portion of its orbit, SOLSTICE will measure the ultraviolet radiation coming from these selected blue stars. These stars emit spectra that have significant energy in the ultraviolet range measured by SOLSTICE and that are known to be constant in time. So if SOLSTICE’s measurements of these blue stars change over time, then scientists know that the instrument’s response has changed. They can then use the knowledge to make adjustments to their data. – NASA

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