NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument has been chosen as a Best of Green Award winner in treehugger.com's Science & Technology category. TreeHugger called it "the best new tool for climate science" and said that without AIRS, "our understanding of the planet's climate would be much poorer."
AIRS is one of six instruments onboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Launched into Earth-orbit on May 4, 2002, AIRS, along with its partner microwave instrument, the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU-A), tracks the planet's water and energy cycles, climate variations and trends, and the response of our climate system to increased greenhouse gases. Termed the "quintessential greenhouse gas sensor of our time," AIRS has produced the first global satellite map of carbon dioxide [CO2] in Earth's mid-troposphere, an area about 8 kilometers, or 5 miles, above Earth. The data it has provided has given us insights into how CO2, which directly contributes to climate change, is distributed in Earth's atmosphere and moves around our world.
This is TreeHugger's second annual Best of Green Awards, and its timing is in honor of Earth Month and the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. The awards "highlight the individuals and organizations that are pushing the green movement forward," and they do so in more than 200 categories across eight topics. AIRS shares its award with, among others, a gadget reselling company, an Altoid tin solar-cell iPhone charger, cloud computing and leaf-inspired superhydrophobic coatings.
A complete list of Science & Technology winners can be found here.