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USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory to help NASA with new instrument

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NORTH LOGAN, UTAH, April 14, 2021 – For decades, SDL has developed extensive environmental testing and validation capabilities for space, airborne, and miniaturized systems. This March 26 photo captures one of several chambers used at SDL for testing and calibration. (Credit: Allison Bills/Space Dynamics Laboratory)

NORTH LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced that it has a contract to support a new instrument owned by NASA.

Once built, the instrument, called Libera, will add to the 40-year data record of the balance between solar radiation that enters Earth’s atmosphere and the amount that is absorbed, reflected, and emitted.

The laboratory will work under the leadership of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, LASP, at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“SDL is honored to work with Dr. Pilewskie, his team at LASP, and NASA’s Earth Science Division to provide essential ground calibration validation for the Libera flight payload, which will ensure the success of this vital, state-of-the-art science instrument,” says Alan Thurgood, SDL’s director of civil space. “SDL’s efforts for Libera continue our valued relationship with LASP supporting its mission to maintain and improve the capability to pursue key science questions.”

Libera’s findings will help scientists better understand variations in Earth’s climate system and how the climate adjusts, the release states.

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“The ground calibration and validation of sensitive space-based science instruments during manufacturing is critical to proving the designed capabilities before launch into space,” says James Peterson, SDL’s calibration branch head for civil space. “It is a privilege for SDL to apply more than 50 years of experience developing extensive system, instrument, and component testing capabilities to enable Libera to provide unprecedented knowledge to the science community.”

Libera will fly aboard the Joint Polar Satellite System-3 spacecraft, which is part of a system that gathers measurements of things like sea and land surface temperatures, snow and ice cover, and water vapor and ozone.

For more information on the Space Dynamic Laboratory, visit

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