ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS)
NASA launched the CloudSat and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) spacecraft to study the role that clouds and aerosols play in regulating Earth’s weather, climate and air quality. Launch occurred on April 28, 2006, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle. The satellites launched into a 705-kilometer (438-mile) circular sun-synchronous polar orbit, and fly in orbital formation as part of the “A-Train” constellation of three other Earth Observing satellites including Aqua, Aura and Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales’ (CNES) PARASOL. Together, the A-Train satellites are increasing our understanding of the climate system and the potential for climate change. The CloudSat mission funded lifetime is 22 months to enable more than one seasonal cycle to be observed, although the radar lifetime is expected to approach three years. CALIPSO is planned for three years of on-orbit operation.
Scientists are improving their understanding of Earth’s climate system, but many questions remain. Weather and climate models, the prediction tools scientists use to study the Earth system, are complicated, and the information scientists use to build the models is incomplete. CloudSat and CALIPSO ARE COLLECTING information about the vertical structure of clouds and aerosols unavailable from other Earth observing satellites. Their data ARE IMPROVING our models and providING a better understanding of the human impact on the atmosphere. Policy makers and business leaders CAN make more informed long-term environmental decisions about public health, the economy and better day-to-day weather predictions as a result of these missions.