The rate at which energy reaches the earth’s surface from the sun, usually taken to be 1,388 watts per square metre.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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