A Scottish company has helped NASA with technology that is being used on the International Space Station.

EMIT, developed by Alpha Data, will observe Earth from the outside of the ISS, and will deliver never-before-seen data, detailing how mineral dust clouds carried by high winds from arid regions over vast distances may heat or cool the atmosphere as they travel, with dark particles absorbing sunlight for a heating effect and light-coloured particles providing a cooling effect.

The company has offices in both Edinburgh and Colorado, USA.

The instrument consists of a state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer that will investigate visible and infrared light to determine the makeup of mineral dust clouds, and their role in the warming and cooling of the atmosphere.

Kate Calvin, NASA’s Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor, said: “The data we’re getting from EMIT will give us more insight into the heating and cooling of Earth, and the role mineral dust plays in that cycle.

The Herald:

"It’s promising to see the amount of data we’re getting from the mission in such a short time.”

EMIT will gather billions of new spectroscopic measurements across six continents, closing this gap in knowledge and advancing climate science.

David Miller, Alpha Data Managing Director, said: “The successful deployment of EMIT is a landmark achievement for Alpha Data and further strengthens our relationship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Alpha Data’s crucial contributions to EMIT have led to a successful milestone accomplishment in this significant and accelerating industry and showcases the unrivalled ability of Alpha Data’s development frameworks to produce highly reliable, space-grade off-the-shelf electronics.”

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Alpha Data and EMIT is yet another milestone within Scotland’s ever-growing space sector, which collaborates internationally on world leading research missions. EMIT follows hot on the heels of the Mid-Infrared Instrument [MIRI] - one of the four workhorse instruments onboard the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh being the lead institution that designed and built MIRI.

Established in 1993 and with offices in the US and UK, Alpha Data is the leading global supplier of state-of-the-art solutions targeted at compute-intensive applications, including high performance Commercial Off-The-Shelf [COTS] performance computing solutions and support software. A leading provider of high-performance networking applications, Alpha Data caters to deployment in extreme environments, such as areas of high altitude.

Alpha Data has been providing modified existing products and designs to NASA from the drawing board through to deployment and beyond.