The Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) was designed to study aerosols by observing how light behaves when scattered by the aerosol particles.
The atmosphere is filled with natural and man-made particulate, which affects global temperatures, but according to NASA scientists, these substances represent the largest uncertainty regarding climate change.
"Since black carbon aerosols generally contribute to warming, and sulfate aerosols to cooling, the concentrations of these aerosols and others must be determined to ensure accurate climate modeling." says Bill Hart, vice president, Space Systems.
With 161 optical elements, including six telescopes that will analyze light of varying wavelengths, the APS would have made measurements from multiple viewing angles in multiple spectral bands.