AIRS Microwave Image
This is an infrared image of Tropical Storm Beryl in the western Atlantic, from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite on July 20, 2006, 1:30 am local time. This AIRS image shows the temperature of the cloud tops or the surface of the Earth in cloud-free regions. The lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated with high, cold cloud tops that make up the top of the hurricane. The infrared signal does not penetrate through clouds. Where there are no clouds the AIRS instrument reads the infrared signal from the surface of the Earth, revealing warmer temperatures (red). This infrared image shows three large regions of strong convection surrounding the core of the storm. The largest, on the northern edge of the core, also appears in the companion microwave image to contain intense precipitation.
The image in figure 1 is created from microwave radiation emitted by Earth's atmosphere and received by the instrument. It shows where the heaviest rainfall is taking place (in blue) in the storm. Blue areas outside of the tropical storm, where there are either some clouds or no clouds indicate where the sea surface shines through.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit, AMSU, senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations all the way down to Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments fly onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
More information about AIRS can be found at http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.