EMIT Science

  • I’m confused, does EMIT measure atmospheric dust or the land surface?

    MIT maps the minerals on Earth's surface. Measuring dust in the atmosphere can only provide a snapshot of conditions at a particular place and time. However, to predict the total influence of dust and its future impacts as the land surface changes, we need to understand the entire dust cycle.  To help this effort, EMIT will measure the surface mineralogy of all arid lands in known dust-emitting regions around the planet.  The EMIT science team will then use these maps, together with existing datasets, to model the distribution and composition of atmospheric dust, and its influence on Earth’s climate.

    You can find out more about the data products EMIT generates here

  • Why are heating and cooling from atmospheric dust important?

    There are many important factors that determine the climate trajectory of our planet.  EMIT is focused on radiative forcing, or how much heat is trapped or reflected by the atmosphere.  While radiative forcing is not the largest part of the climate budget, it is the most uncertain – so uncertain that it could play either a cooling or a warming role.  EMIT seeks to reign in this uncertainty, and ‘constrain the sign’ on radiative forcing to either a cooling or a warming effect.

    You can find out more about the data products EMIT generates here

  • Why is EMIT going to the International Space Station?

    The International Space Station (ISS) has a large amount of infrastructure in place that EMIT can leverage to help keep costs down.  EMIT joins a substantive legacy of important instruments, such as ECOSTRESS and GEDI in gathering data from a vantage point on the ISS.

    You can find out more about the data products EMIT generates here

Imaging Spectroscopy

  • What is an imaging spectrometer?

    An imaging spectrometer is an instrument that measures many wavelengths of light, at multiple locations, at the same time.  The EMIT instrument observes about 7 times the range of the human-observable spectrum, in over 300 channels. 

    You can find out more about the EMIT instrument here.

  • Does NASA have other imaging spectrometers?

    NASA has a 30 year history of flying imaging spectrometers similar to EMIT.  The "Classic" and "Next Generation" Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometers (AVIRIS-C and -NG) have flown missions on four continents, and acquired hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of spectral images.  They have resulted in over 30,000 journal publications.

    For more about NASA imaging spectroscopy, visit the web page for AVIRIS-C or AVIRIS-NG

  • What do these spectroscopy data tell us?

    Many minerals on the earth surface have a distinct ‘spectral signature’, similar to a fingerprint, that makes them visible to an imaging spectrometer.  The EMIT mission is going to measure 10 of the most important minerals that make up atmospheric dust, so we can learn how much of these different minerals are in the atmosphere. 

    You can find out more about the EMIT science objectives here