ERBS was part of the NASA's 3 satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), designed to investigate how energy from the Sun is absorbed and re-emitted by the Earth. This process of absorption and re-radiation is one of the principal drivers of the Earth's weather patterns. Observations from ERBS were also used to determine the effects of human activities (such as burning fossil fuels and the use CFCs) and natural occurrences (such as volcanic eruptions) on the Earth's radiation balance. Following deployment from STS-41G, Astronaut Sally Ride had to shake the satellite with the remote manipulator arm to get the solar arrays to deploy. The other instruments of the ERBE were flown on NOAA 9 and 10. Spacecraft: 3-axis stabilised to 1 degree using magnetic torquers, hydrazine RCS backup. Two solar arrays generate 2164 W (EOL peak), two 50 Ahr NiCd batteries. Hydrazine propulsion system supports ACS yaw manoeuvres (required to keep solar arrays illuminated), initial orbit raising. Downlink (at 128 kbps), uplink through TDRSS using electrically steerable spherical array antenna. Payload: SAGE II (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment), ERBE Non-Scanner (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment), ERBE Scanner. ERBE (Non-Scanner)- Total energy of Sun's radiant heat and light. Channels 1-4 : 0.2 - 3.5 µ m, 0.2 - 50.0 µ m; Channel 5 : 0.2 - 50.0 µ m; 1000 km resolution across swath full solar disc. ERBE (Scanner)- Reflected solar radiation, Earth emitted radiation.3 Channels : 0.2 - 50.0 µ m, 40 km resolution. SAGE II - Stratospheric aerosols, O3, NO2, water vapor.7 channels : 0.385 - 1.02 µ m, 0.5 km resolution.
Design Life: 2 years. Total Length: 4.6 m. Maximum Diameter: 3.5 m. Total Mass: 226 kg.
Earth Radiation Budget Satellite. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B).