JPSS Emblem

Joint Polar Satellite System

From our global observations to your local weather forecast
facebook twitter flickr YouTube

Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES)

What is CERES?

The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument measures reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth.

CERES FM5 is currently flying on the Suomi NPP satellite mission, and CERES FM6 will fly on the JPSS-1 spacecraft.

CERES helps provide measurements of the spatial and temporal distribution of Earth's Radiation Budget (ERB) components. This further develops a quantitative understanding of the links between the ERB and the proprieties of atmosphere and surface that define it.

Earth's climate system tries to balance radiant energy from the sun that reaches the Earth with the energy that is emitted from Earth back to space. Measurements from CERES help scientists understand the links between the Earth's incoming and outgoing energy and the properties of the atmosphere that affect that energy.


  • The observations from CERES FM6 help measure the effect of clouds on the energy balance, which strongly influences both weather and climate.
  • CERES allows scientists to validate models that calculate the effect of clouds in driving planetary heating or cooling. CERES' global observations provide data for improving seasonal climate forecasts, including cloud and radiative aspects of large-scale climate events like El Niño and La Niña.
  • CERES also determines cloud properties including the amount, height, thickness, particle size and phase of clouds using simultaneous measurements by other instruments, such as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). These measurements are critical for understanding cloud-radiation climate change and improving the prediction of global warming using climate models.
  • CERES data can also be used for assessing the radiative effects and climatic impact of natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, major floods and droughts. The long-term data will provide a basis for scientific understanding of cloud and climate feedback that determines climate variations and trends.
CERES instrument

Instruments at a Glance

Title: Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES)
Purpose: Measures reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth.
Instrument Contractor: Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS), Redondo Beach, California
Key Specs:
Coverage: 3 Channels | 0.3 to 5 µm | 8 to 12 µm | 0.3 to > 50 µm
Nadir Resolution: 20 km
Accuracy: 0.3 to 1%
Average Data Rate: 10,520 bps
Average Power: 55 Watts
Mass: 54 kilograms

CERES Factsheet