No instrument like MISR has flown in space before. Viewing the sunlit Earth simultaneously at nine widely spaced angles, MISR provides ongoing global coverage with high spatial detail. Its imagery is carefully calibrated to provide accurate measures of the brightness, contrast, and color of reflected sunlight.
MISR provides new types of information for scientists studying Earth's climate, such as the partitioning of energy and carbon between the land surface and the atmosphere, and the regional and global impacts of different types of atmospheric particles and clouds on climate. The change in reflection at different view angles affords the means to distinguish different types of atmospheric particles (aerosols), cloud forms, and land surface covers. Combined with stereoscopic techniques, this enables construction of 3-D models and estimation of the total amount of sunlight reflected by Earth's diverse environments.
MISR detects the height of a cloud or smoke plume above Earth’s surface by viewing it from space at different angles. A plume located high above the surface will appear to move considerably relative to the underlying surface when view at different angles, whereas a plume closer to the surface will appear to shift less. MISR contains nine cameras that image Earth at a wide range of angles, allowing us to observe the apparent shift (called parallax) of smoke plumes from the wildfires in Australia, and to use this to determine the height.
- MISR can detect the height of smoke plumes from fires. This plume elevation data can be used to initialize air-quality and chemical transport models, and greatly improves the accuracy with which models can predict where the smoke will go and what regions may be affected downwind.