NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) selected solid-state data recorders (SSDRs) from Mercury Systems for NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) science mission. The Earth Imaging Spectrometer instrument containing the SSDRs is scheduled for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022.
When strong winds on one continent stir up mineral rock dust (such as calcite or chlorite), the airborne particles can travel thousands of miles to affect entirely different continents. Dust suspended in the air can heat or cool the atmosphere and Earth’s surface. This heating or cooling effect is the focus of the EMIT mission.
Scientists know that most of the mineral dust transported in Earth’s atmosphere comes from arid 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 SSDRs are purpose-built to support the need for ultra-reliable and agile radiation-tolerant storage devices.