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Posted by Alexander on February 22, 2001 22:50:13 UTC

When you put a thermometer in space it just shows you balance of thermal energy in - thermal energy out.

For example, suppose you are far from stars and other sourses of radiation. Then it starts radiate and thus cools quickly, showing 0 K after a while (few hours or so).

But if, say 3K background radiation is around, then it thermalises with it showing 3K.

If Earth happens to radiate infrared on it, it then balances flow in and out, showing something like 50-150 K depending how close to Earth you are.

If Sun happens to shine on it, you can get higher numbers, and so on.

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