The Nimbus-7 Earth Radiation Budget (ERB) instrument began recording data on November 16, 1978 and continued through June 20, 1980. The principal products are nine years of global albedo, outgoing longwave, and net radiation plus continuing solar irradiance measurements. The presence of an associated six-year Nimbus-7 global cloud data set enhances the usefulness of the ERB products. Chief uses of the data include studies in regional energy heat budgets, the improvement of climate and weather prediction models, interannual climate variations, shortwave bidirectional reflectance from Earth atmosphere scenes, and solar physics.
The spacecraft housed eight distinct subsystems and/or experiments for monitoring different aspects of the Earth and its environment.