It will collect upwelling Earth radiance over a wide spectral range and capture three spectral bands: shortwave (reflected solar energy), longwave (emitted Earth energy), and total (independent check of the other two bands). One telescope per band simplifies detectors and operations. The RBI provides very precise calibration—set by an extensive ground calibration program. Multiple onboard targets will hold calibration over mission life.
Observations from RBI will help measure the effect of clouds on the Earth's energy balance, which strongly influences both weather and climate. Long-term satellite data from RBI will help scientists and researchers understand the links between the Earth's incoming and outgoing energy, and properties of the atmosphere that affect it. The data from RBI will provide fundamental inputs to extended range --10-day or longer -- weather forecasting, and also be used to develop a quantitative understanding of the links between Earth's radiation budget and the properties of the atmosphere and surface that define that budget.