Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR)
Taking the ocean's temperature from space.
The ATSR instruments flying on board the European Space Agency's ERS-1 and -2 satellites are advanced imaging sensors, which make accurate radiometric measurements in the thermal infrared and visible wavelengths.
Launch of ATSR-1 on ERS-1: 17th July 1991
Launch of ATSR-2 on ERS-2: 20th April 1995
From these, we can precisely measure sea-surface temperature, setting a new world standard (better than 0.3 K one sigma globally) for determining this parameter from space data.
It has also been possible to infer land surface temperatures, cloud and aerosol parameters, water vapour and vegetation indices.
The consistent, accurate and long-term global measurements of the sea surface temperature provided by the ATSR instruments are used for climate research applications, including quantifying climate change.
The ATSR instruments contain several innovative technological features (dual view, Stirling cycle coolers, high accuracy black-bodies). They were designed and developed by a consortium of research institutes led by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and supported by NERC, including:
- University of Leicester Space Research Centre
- Oxford University, Sub-department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics
- University College London
- Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL)
- UK Met Office
- Contributions from France, Australia and the UK Department of Trade and Industry.