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Earth Revs its Heat Engine
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Earth Revs its Heat Engine

November 8, 2003
Absorption of solar energy heats up our planet’s surface and the atmosphere and makes life for us possible. But the energy cannot stay bound up in the Earth’s environment forever. If it did then the Earth would be as hot as the Sun. Instead, as the surface and the atmosphere warm, they emit thermal longwave radiation, some of which escapes into space and allows the Earth to cool. This false-color image of the Earth was produced on September 30, 2001, by the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument flying aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft. The image shows where more or less heat, in the form of longwave radiation, is emanating from the top of Earth’s atmosphere.


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