Scientists use computer programs called climate models to understand the behavior of and make predictions about climate. Climate models are mathematical representations of natural processes. While they are invaluable tools, more scientific studies are necessary to gain a greater confidence in their predictions. Clouds and aerosols are important variables in these models. Researchers need to learn more about how they help cool and warm the Earth, how they interact with each other and how human activities will change them and their effect on the climate in the future.
The CALIPSO satellite will give scientists a highly advanced research tool to study the Earth's atmosphere and will provide the international science community with a data set that is essential for a better understanding of the Earths climate. With more confidence in climate model predictions, international and national leaders will be able to make more informed policy decisions about global climate change.
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton ,Va., leads and manages CALIPSO for the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program and collaborates with the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, Hampton University and the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in France. CALIPSO, scheduled for launch in 2005, is designed to operate for three years.