Cornell University partners with NASA for new space program
ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Dust is everywhere, especially in our planet's deserts, but scientists do not know what it does. That is the new mission of the NASA Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation. Cornell University partnered with the national organization to develop a new machine called EMIT.
"Well, when we say desert dust, we don't mean like random dust, like around your house or something, we really mean mineral, mineral particles, so minerals, but all we mean is stuff, you know, that's in a desert, the sand and the smaller particles more," said Natalie Mahowald, a professor of engineering at Cornell University.
The machine will be deployed to the International Space Station Thursday. EMIT scans the earth's surface with wavelengths to figure out which minerals make up the dust that blows around the deserts. The mineral composition then tells scientists whether the dust absorbs heat from the sun or does not absorb heat from the sun.
High winds and dust storms in the world's deserts mean that dust can travel across oceans and continents, thus effecting the entire world.
Scientists say that the EMIT machine will give them a more accurate picture of how the world will look in the future.
A lot of what we're gonna get out of this is understanding more about over the past and in the future, how the desert dust that has changed, whether it's warming or cooling the atmosphere," Mahowald said.
Researchers hope this study will give them a plan for climate change mitigation.