FIRST (Far Infrared Spectroscopy of the Troposphere) Successfully Test Flown

The ESTO-funded FIRST (Far Infrared Spectroscopy of the Troposphere) instrument was successfully demonstrated on a high-altitude research balloon flight on June 7.




Developed through ESTO's Instrument Incubator Program (IIP), FIRST measures infrared emissions from 10-100 microns, well beyond the range of any existing sensors. The instrument is designed to measure the far-infrared emission from the troposphere, which will provide key data for global change studies.

The balloon and payload was launched from the National Scientific Balloon Facility in Ft. Sumner, NM, and provided data from 90,000 ft for 4.5 hours, meeting the test objectives. During this time, the Aqua spacecraft (containing the AIRS instrument, which measures infrared emissions from 4 to 15 microns) passed overhead. The AIRS data from this pass will be combined with the FIRST data to provide the first-ever complete infrared emission spectrum of the Earth.

Based on the preliminary assessment, the instrument met its design goals.

Complete data analysis is underway but initial looks at the data show far-infrared spectra rich in spectral features, as expected. A final presentation of results is expected in September.