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Infrared, microwave, and visible/near-infrared images of Hurricane Hector in the eastern Pacific were created with data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite on August 17, 2006. The infrared AIRS image shows the temperature of the cloud tops or the surface of the Earth in cloud-free regions. The lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated with high, cold cloud tops that make up the top of the hurricane. The infrared signal does not penetrate through clouds. Where there are no clouds the AIRS instrument reads the infrared signal from the surface of the Earth, revealing warmer temperatures (red). At the time the data were taken from which these images were made, Hector is a well organized storm, with the strongest convection in the SE quadrant. The increasing vertical wind shear in the NW quadrant is appearing to have an effect. Maximum sustained winds are at 85 kt, gusts to 105 kt. Estimated minimum central pressure is 975 mbar. The microwave image is created from microwave radiation emitted by Earth's atmosphere and received by the instrument. It shows where the heaviest rainfall is taking place (in blue) in the storm. Blue areas outside of the storm where there are either some clouds or no clouds, indicate where the sea surface shines through. The "visible" image is created from data acquired by the visible light/near-infrared sensor on the AIRS instrument. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Experiment, with its visible, infrared, and microwave detectors, provides a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather. Working in tandem, the three instruments can make simultaneous observations all the way down to the Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, 3-D map of atmospheric temperature and humidity and provides information on clouds, greenhouse gases, and many other atmospheric phenomena. The AIRS Infrared Sounder Experiment flies onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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