Science & Nature

Nobel Prize for physics winner formed ground-breaking Earth-observing mission

The European Remote Sensing satellite (ERS-1) was put into orbit on 17 July 1991.

The European Remote Sensing satellite tv for pc (ERS-1) was put into orbit on 17 July 1991.
(Image credit score: ESA)

This yr’s Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Klaus Hasselmann helped to form a ground-breaking Earth-observation mission that paved the way in which for the trendy examine of our planet’s setting. 

The German oceanographer and local weather modeler was awarded the coveted prize for his contribution to the bodily modeling of Earth‘s local weather that has enabled scientists to quantify the local weather’s pure variability and higher predict local weather change. Hasselman gained half of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics final week, with the opposite half shared by scientists Syukuro Manabe and Giorgio Parisi for their very own analysis on dysfunction and fluctuations in bodily methods.

Hasselman, now 89 and nonetheless energetic on the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, was additionally a member of an professional group that, within the Nineteen Seventies, helped the European Space Agency (ESA) create its Earth remark program and construct its first mission devoted to learning Earth from above.

Related: In pictures: NASA launches Landsat 9 Earth remark satellite tv for pc

“We ship our most honest congratulations to Prof. Dr Hasselmann for his well-deserved Nobel Prize,” ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, mentioned in a press release.

As a member of the house company’s High-Level Earth Observation Advisory Committee, Hasselman contributed to the event of the European Remote Sensing satellite tv for pc (ERS-1) and its successor ERS-2. 

For this mission, Hasselmann developed a technique for measuring ocean waves utilizing artificial aperture radar (SAR) imaging, ESA mentioned within the assertion. SAR devices ship a sign to the bottom after which measure how a lot of it’s mirrored again. These devices are more and more employed by environment-monitoring satellites right this moment and the method developed by Hasselmann remains to be in use on present Earth-observing satellites such because the European Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission. 

“Without a doubt, it’s largely because of Prof. Hasselmann that now we have operational wave monitoring, or ‘wave mode’ from Sentinel-1 right this moment — a supply of important information for ocean forecasting, protecting maritime site visitors protected,” Aschbacher mentioned within the assertion.

Coincidentally, the ERS-1 mission celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this yr. Launched on July 17, 1991, ERS-1 was, at the moment, Europe’s most subtle spacecraft, the house company mentioned within the assertion. 

In addition to the imaging artificial aperture radar that was used for the wave monitoring, the 5,256-lb. (2,384 kilograms) satellite tv for pc additionally carried a radar altimeter (a sensor that sends a radar pulse to the bottom and measures the gap based mostly on the time it takes for the sign to return) and a wind scatterometer (which measures how a radar sign is affected by disturbances in Earth’s ambiance). The mission generated nine-years price of knowledge about Earth’s ambiance, oceans, ice protection and land circumstances earlier than it failed in March 2000, having exceeded its anticipated life-span by 8 years. 

Its successor, ERS-2, was already in orbit at the moment, permitting ESA to seamlessly proceed to assemble information in regards to the altering planet. Launched in 1995, ESR-2 additionally carried a devoted sensor for ozone layer monitoring. 

Hasselmann obtained the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics along with Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University, and Giorgio Parisi of Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

Syukuro additionally works within the bodily modelling of Earth’s local weather and local weather change prediction. He was the primary to reveal how elevated ranges of carbon dioxide within the ambiance result in elevated temperatures on the floor of the planet. Parisi’s work facilities on theoretical understanding of disordered supplies and random processes together with atom-scale in addition to planetary-level developments. 

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Tereza Pultarova

Tereza is a London-based science and know-how journalist, aspiring fiction author and beginner gymnast. Originally from Prague, the Czech Republic, she spent the primary seven years of her profession working as a reporter, script-writer and presenter for numerous TV programmes of the Czech Public Service Television. She later took a profession break to pursue additional schooling and added a Master’s in Science from the International Space University, France, to her Bachelor’s in Journalism and Master’s in Cultural Anthropology from Prague’s Charles University. She labored as a reporter on the Engineering and Technology journal, freelanced for a variety of publications together with Live Science,, Professional Engineering, Via Satellite and Space News and served as a maternity cowl science editor on the European Space Agency.

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