RAVAN viewing 2017 solar eclipse, illustration

RAVAN viewing 2017 solar eclipse, illustration

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Credit: NASA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: RAVAN viewing 2017 solar eclipse. Computer illustration showing NASA's RAVAN (Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes, bottom right) CubeSat satellite observing the solar eclipse of 21st August 2017. This tiny, loaf of bread-sized satellite was developed to test and validate light-absorbing carbon nanotubes as a new method for measuring Earth's radiation imbalance - the difference between the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth and the amount that is reflected and emitted back into space, which is key for predicting changes in the planet's climate. The solar eclipse provided a unique opportunity to also test another important carbon nanotube attribute - its strong sensitivity to rapidly changing energy outputs. Therefore, RAVAN's highly sensitive nanotubes were focused on the sun to detect changes in the amount of incoming solar energy.

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