Solar Backscatter Utraviolet Radiometer
Under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ball Aerospace has launched nine Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Radiometer-2s (SBUV/2). The first was launched in 1984, and the most recent was launched in 2009.
SBUV/2, an operational remote sensor, flies on NOAA weather satellites and monitors the density and distribution of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere from six to 30 miles. SBUV/2 looks down at the Earth’s atmosphere and the reflected sunlight at wavelengths characteristic of ozone.
Ozone is measured as a ratio of sunlight incident on the atmosphere to amount of sunlight scattered back into space. From this information, the total ozone between the instrument and the ground can be calculated. Data also indicate the ozone’s vertical distribution.
The Ball Aerospace-built SBUV/2 helped to discover the ozone hole above Antarctica in 1987, and continues to monitor this phenomenon. Atmospheric ozone absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which are believed to cause gene mutations, skin cancer, and cataracts in humans. Ultraviolet rays may also damage crops and aquatic ecosystems.