CALIPSO: A Global Perspective of Clouds and Aerosols from Space


The future of CALIPSO
CALIPSO is scheduled to fly in formation with four other satellites that will collect a wide variety of coincident measurements. Each satellite in the formation offers unique information on clouds and aerosols. Combining their data will provide greater insight than could be gained from a single satellite. The Earth Observing System (EOS) Aqua satellite, which is focused on understanding the Earth's water or hydrological cycle, will collect data on the geographical distribution of clouds and aerosols, atmospheric temperature, moisture content and the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere. CloudSat, a sister ESSP satellite experiment, will use a radar to provide vertical profiles of thick clouds that lidar cannot penetrate. The EOS Aura satellite will monitor atmospheric chemistry and dynamics and will provide information on the geographic distribution of absorbing aerosols. Finally, the PARASOL (Polarization and Anisotropy of Reflectances for Atmospheric Science coupled with Observations from a Lidar) satellite, being developed by CNES, will provide unique information on aerosols and clouds using a multi-channel, wide field-of-view, polarization-sensitive camera.

Afternoon satellite constellation

CALIPSO will fly in formation with the Aura, PARASOL, CloudSat, and Aqua satellites. View an animation (4.6MB .mpg) of the constellation. (Animation courtesy of Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory).

Upon successful completion of the CALIPSO mission, the collected data will allow scientists to better understand aerosols and clouds and, ultimately, improve climate models. CALIPSO observations will improve global estimates of how aerosols affect the Earth's radiation budget and of the flow of heat between the Earth's surface and the top of the atmosphere. Using CALIPSO, scientists will have a new way to determine how the climate, aerosols and clouds interact.

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The importance of clouds and climate change
A curtain of the atmosphere
The future of CALIPSO

Related Data

Cloud Forcing
Aerosol Index