The data come from microwave and infrared sounding instruments that are part of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment: the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit. With its visible, infrared and microwave detectors, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment provides a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather. Working in tandem, its instruments can make simultaneous observations from space all the way to Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,400 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity and provides information on clouds, greenhouse gases and many other atmospheric phenomena.
"The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment is demonstrating high sensitivity and accuracy," said Dr. Moustafa Chahine, science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., which manages the experiment. "Meteorologists around the world have been eagerly awaiting the availability of this processed Atmospheric Infrared Sounder data, and are already reporting measurable increases in the accuracy of their short-term weather predictions. NASA and the world's weather prediction agencies can now also use Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment data to better track severe weather events, like hurricanes."