Press Release

NASA’s Calipso Leaves France for California Launch

By SpaceRef Editor
June 9, 2005
Filed under , , ,
NASA’s Calipso Leaves France for California Launch

A NASA and Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) satellite, which will improve worldwide climate predictions and provide a better understanding of how clouds and aerosols affect our atmosphere, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite was shipped from the Alcatel Space facility in Cannes, France, on May 19. It will be launched from NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg later this year.

CALIPSO uses revolutionary measurement technologies that will probe Earth’s atmosphere as never before. Its lidar will collect detailed measurements of aerosols — small liquid or solid particles in the air — and thin clouds. CALIPSO will also improve scientists’ layered or 3-dimensional view of the distribution of aerosols and clouds in the atmosphere.

“The scientific knowledge gained from such observations will be used to improve models that predict Earth’s weather and climate,” said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA’S Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. CALIPSO will be mated to a Boeing Delta II rocket with another NASA spacecraft, CloudSat. Together, they will provide new perspectives on Earth’s clouds and aerosols that will answer questions about how they form, evolve and affect water supply and air quality. CALIPSO and CloudSat will be launched into an orbit where they will fly just 15 seconds apart as part of NASA’s “A-Train” constellation with three other earth observing system satellites.

The other three Earth Observing System satellites that make up NASA’s A-Train are: NASA’s Aqua spacecraft; NASA’s Aura spacecraft; and the French space agency’s (CNES’s) Polarization and Anisotropy of Reflectances for Atmospheric Sciences coupled with Observations from a Lidar (PARASOL) spacecraft

When combined, the usefulness of data from CloudSat, CALIPSO and the other satellites of the A-train will be much greater and help scientists better understand how sources of local pollution affect air quality, and improve climate prediction and weather forecasting. Also by organizing the satellites into a constellation, it will allow scientists to comprehensively sample the characteristics of air masses nearly simultaneously, thus getting the benefits of multiple observational approaches.

“With CALIPSO, CNES is very happy to pursue the fruitful collaboration with NASA to provide the international community with advanced tools to investigate our environment and its evolution,” said Daniel Vidal Madjar, the CNES official responsible for the Earth Observation Program.

CALIPSO is being developed through collaboration between NASA and CNES. NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., is leading the CALIPSO mission and is providing systems engineering, payload mission operations, and validation, processing and archiving of data. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., is providing project management and system engineering support, and overall program management for the mission.

CNES is providing a Proteus spacecraft developed by Alcatel, the imaging infrared radiometer, payload-to-spacecraft integration, and spacecraft mission operations. The Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris, France, is providing the imaging infrared radiometer science oversight, data validation and archiving. Hampton University, Hampton, Va., is providing scientific contributions and managing the outreach program. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. developed the lidar and on-board visible camera.

CloudSat is an international and interagency mission with project management by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. The CloudSat radar instrument was developed at JPL with hardware contributions from the Canadian Space Agency. Colorado State University provides scientific leadership and science data processing. Other contributions include the U.S. Air Force (satellite on-orbit operations control) and the U.S. Department of Energy. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. designed and built the spacecraft. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. For more information on CloudSat and CALIPSO on the Internet, please visit:  

SpaceRef staff editor.