Monday, July 18, 2022


During the live coverage for last Thursday's CRS-25 mission, I was listening to the conversations more or less with one ear before the countdown got close to launch time.  Along the way, I heard some talk about a satellite called EMIT - not exactly an acronym, but a mission dedicated to observing airborne mineral dust from Earth's major desert areas.  That NASA/JPL webpage refers to the name as Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation.  

Most of us know that dust from the Sahara desert can become airborne and make it all the way across the Atlantic into the Caribbean basin and the US itself.  All of the deserts of the world also put dust into the atmosphere and spread it around.  The dust doesn't just give pretty red sunrises and sunsets, it can affect weather including tropical storms and hurricanes transiting the Atlantic and even health in some people.  Just looking for a satellite picture for background, I found this one from June of 2020.  The Sahara dust is conspicuous because it's the same color as the land it just came from.

One of the issues with climate alarmism that I hope everyone is aware of is that the models are crappy approximations of reality.  They're especially bad at modeling the effects of clouds, which sometimes cool an area and sometimes heat it.  They include nothing about these dust clouds at all beyond the simplest model; assigning all the dust in every cloud to be one mineral with one color - yellow. 

The EMIT satellite gets mounted to the exterior of the ISS where it can characterize the dust using a remarkable spectroscope developed for this mission.

Mineral dust has many other effects on our planet. It can help form clouds or change atmospheric chemistry. When the dust settles in water or on land it can provide nutrients for ecosystem growth. If it falls on snow or ice, mineral dust can increase sunlight absorption and accelerate melting. Mineral dust in the air can reduce visibility or harm human health.

Scientists know that most of the mineral dust transported in Earth’s atmosphere comes from arid, or dry, regions around the globe. But they aren’t certain what types of minerals the wind carries from those regions. Different minerals affect the environment in different ways. So scientists need to know what minerals are in dust source regions if they’re going to better understand how the dust is affecting the Earth. EMIT will provide this missing dust source information.

The data will allow scientists to create a new mineral map of Earth’s dust-producing regions. The map will improve computer models that scientists will use to assess the regional and global heating and cooling effects of mineral dust today and in the future.

The quote that got my attention was, “Right now, our knowledge is traced to about 5,000 mineral analyses where minerals have been collected and analyzed. When EMIT completes its mission, we will have a billion direct observations of the mineral composition of the Earth’s arid land.”

1 comment:

  1. And to add a twist, many Saharan nations are actively working on stabilizing and greening said Saharan desert. Using techniques known for the world since at least the mid 1900's (and as outlined in Herbert's "Dune") such as dew catchers and underground retention cisterns. (no, no sandworms... yet.)

    Wonder how much effect this will have to dust clouds and western fertility?

    As to forecasting, the same people who positively tell us we're doooooooomed can't accurately forecast weather 4 hours from now. The Farmers' Almanac is more accurate longterm than modern weather guessers.