In a bid to meet NASA’s endeavor to detect levels of aerosol in the earth’s atmosphere, Raytheon will install aboard Glory, a NASA spaceship, a sensor, called the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor.
According to John Barksdale, Raytheon's manager of integrated communications, although the AP sensor is not available commercially, the company can develop other sensors based on the same technology for use by other people working outside NASA.
The sensor has about 161 optical elements to help analyze light of differing wavelengths such as visible and shortwave. It has the capacity to measure light from different angles in various spectral bands when the spaceship Glory is in orbit. The APS along with two cloud cameras that will also be on board the spaceship will identify clouds that will help determine the global aerosols presence as well as cloud properties.
According to Bill Hart, vice president of space systems at Raytheon, the endeavor is to obtain precise information on the kinds of aerosols because some cause heating while others cause cooling of the atmosphere. The aerosols are carried from one place to another by wind, so the only way to study them is thorough spacecraft.