One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The rate at which energy reaches the earth's surface from the sun, usually taken to be 1,388 watts per square metre.
- ‘Solar sails can be used to adjust the earth's solar constant (in effect making it a variable that can be controlled).’
- ‘The solar constant is 1.37 kW m - 2, but the 24-hour average at the top of the atmosphere is of course much lower, and varies widely by geographic latitude and time of year.’
- ‘The heat shield will reach temperatures of up to 1800°C as it is exposed to energies 1000 times more intense than the solar constant.’
- ‘The solar constant isn't constant.’
- ‘But the solar constant - the amount of sunlight received each second - is carefully monitored by spacecraft, and we know the sun's output is much too steady to be changing the temperature of Pluto.’
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