App designed by Somerset cloud spotter helps calibrate Nasa satellites

Satellite in space The app will be used by Nasa to help calibrate its satellite equipment

A smartphone app developed by a Somerset cloud watching enthusiast is to be used by Nasa to help calibrate satellite equipment.

The iPhone CloudSpotter app was designed by Gavin Pretor-Pinney from Somerton, who also runs the The Cloud Appreciation Society.

App users can take pictures of clouds that are then analysed by experts.

Nasa will use the data gathered to calibrate its Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES).

The app allows users to take a picture of the sky and classify the type, or species, of cloud they have seen.

The photographs, with geo-location data attached, are then analysed by a team of expert cloud spotters who verify the judgement.

"We've got a link up with Nasa and they will be able to use the anonymous data that's gathered by this app in order to calibrate their satellite equipment," said Mr Pretor-Pinney.

"They've got these satellite instruments known as CERES which are looking down on the clouds, studying them and trying to help us understand better the role that clouds play in the temperatures down on the ground.

"It will help us better understand what the likely future shape of our changing climate will be."

The Cloud Appreciation Society, which has more than 32,000 members worldwide, is a group that encourages an interest in different species of clouds.

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