Remote Sensing from Space

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SOLCON is part of the core payload of the ATLAS program. Its scientific objective is to measure the Solar constant during each of the Solar observation periods of each ATLAS mission. The Solar constant is the total radiated flux from the Sun, on a square meter area, at the mean Sun to the Earth distance.
In the actual context of the "Global Climate Change" of the Earth, it is well recognized that the knowledge of the long term behavior of the "Solar constant" is of basic importance.
To obtain this knowledge it is necessary that the measurements be performed continuously with the highest feasible absolute accuracy. Indeed Solar irradiance continuous drift free measurements cannot really be guaranteed on a long term basis. The monitoring of the consistency of the observations obtained from free flyers susceptible to aging is thus an important part of the followed strategy, and is the main objective of SOLCON. Regular, if not periodic, comparisons between the results obtained with SOLCON and radiometers installed on free flyers, as has been done with the ATLAS missions, is the natural application of the strategy.