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Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE)

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Status: Completed
Mission Category: Earth Observing System (EOS)
Launch Date: January 25, 2003
Launch Location: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Actual Completion Date: February 25, 2020

Observations from the Solar Radiation and Climate (SORCE) satellite improved our understanding of the Sun by generating new inquiry regarding how and why solar variability occurs and how it affects our atmosphere and climate. This knowledge is used to estimate past and future solar behavior and climate response.

The SORCE mission ended on February 25, 2020 after completing more than 17 years of excellent observations of the total solar irradiance (TSI) and spectral solar irradiance (SSI) between 1 nm and 2400 nm. This was a planned passivation event for SORCE after the required overlap with the new NASA Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1) mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The length of the SORCE mission enabled measurements in two of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycles, and SORCE observed solar cycle minimum conditions in both 2008 and 2019 that are particularly useful for secular trending of the solar irradiance.

Key Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment Facts

Mission/Portal Page:
Altitude:Distance from sea level. 640km
Inclination: 40°
Instruments: SIM (Spectral Irradiance Monitor)
SOLSTICE (Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment)
TIM (Total Irradiance Monitor)
XPS (XUV Photometer System)
Project Scientist(s): Robert F. Cahalan
Deputy Project Scientist(s): Douglas Rabin

Related Publications:

  • SORCE (Science Writers' Guide - 496.47 KB)

Relevant Science Focus Areas:

  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Climate Variability and Change
  • Water and Energy Cycles

Relevant Science Questions:

  • How is the global Earth system changing?

Science Goals:

  • SORCE is part of the NASA Earth Observing System of satellites, a series of satellite missions designed to monitor the Earth system from space. These sustained and comprehensive observations include the measurement of solar irradiance as the dominant direct energy input to land, ocean, and atmosphere. As an integral part of this, the SORCE mission aims to:
  • Make precise and accurate measurements of the total solar irradiance (TSI). These observations are connected to previous TSI measurements to form a long-term record of solar influences on Earth.
  • Establish a precise data set of visible and near infrared solar spectral irradiance (SSI) measurements suitable for future climate studies.
  • Compare daily measurements of solar ultraviolet irradiance with bright, early-type stars for in-flight calibration and correction of possible changes in the instrument responsivity.

Related Applications:

  • Public Health
  • Renewable Energy