The TSIS solar sensor
The latest space station sensor will help us better understand our planet’s power supply
The Sun is Earth’s primary energy source and the driving force behind our climate and weather systems. The amount of solar energy that reaches our planet is known as the total solar irradiance (TSI), and scientists have been measuring this continuously since 1978. The latest device to continue these observations is the Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), installed onboard the International Space Station. This device contains two sensors that will provide the most accurate measurements of sunlight yet, monitoring the radiant energy from the Sun with the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) and the distribution of that energy across different wavelengths with the Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM). Our star has an 11-year cycle during which its activity naturally fluctuates. In more active times, sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections are more common, and the Sun emits comparatively more energy than when it is less active. TSIS-1’S sensors will collect data on TSI and how the different layers of our atmosphere respond to solar energy variations. These measurements will help improve our understanding of how much of an impact the Sun’s activity has on our climate.
TSIS moves like a sunflower, following the Sun from sunrise to sunset, which is every 90 minutes on the ISS
Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle, total solar irradiance fluctuates by0.1 per cent