FSpaceRPG article

Status: Official

Albedo is the term used for the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it. It is typically measured on a scale from zero for no reflecting power of a perfectly black surface, to 1 (or 100%) for perfect reflection of a white surface.

Albedo depends on the frequency of the radiation and for FSpaceRPG purposes it usually refers to some appropriate average across the spectrum of visible light, and is presumed to be a relatively uniform direction when measuring planet temperatures with the World Temperature Calc app.

The albedo is an important concept in climatology and astronomy. Our app usually refers to the terrestrial climatology albedo and not the astronomical albedo of space bodies. The average overall albedo of Earth, its planetary albedo, is 30 to 35 percent (0.3 to 0.35 for use with our app), because of the cloud cover and underlying terrain features.

Our app computes with an Albedo of 0.3 a figure over 10 degrees warmer than the current average surface temperature. This is closer to a more aqua planet than our own. We hope to fix this in future.

The following table is a set of typical albedos for certain surfaces which you can use to approximate certain kinds of planetary conditions.

SurfaceTypical Albedo
Fresh asphalt0.04
Worn asphalt0.12
Conifer forest (Summer)0.08 to 0.15
Deciduous trees0.15 to 0.18
Bare soil0.17
Green grass0.25
Desert sand0.4
New concrete0.55
Ocean ice0.5 to 0.7
Fresh snow0.8 to 0.9
Cloudsnear 0.0 to 0.8

The following table is a set of typical albedos for certain planets in our solar system:

PlanetTypical Albedo
Venus0.15 to 0.16
Earth0.3 to 0.35
Mars0.17 to 0.25
Io0.61 to 0.65

Solar system body albedos get updated periodically as research continues. Some of these figures relate to geometric or bond based albedos and not the terrestrial based albedo we typical use in the formula. If you want to be accurate, do some further research online. NASA, ESA, JPL and other online source should have the latest data.

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