NASA's CloudChat completes mission to peer into the heart of clouds

Throughout CloudSat's lifetime, several potentially mission-ending problems occurred related to the spacecraft's battery and the reaction wheels used to control the satellite's orientation. The CloudSat team developed unique solutions to conserve power by „sleeping” the spacecraft during the non-daylight portions of each orbit, and orienting it with less reactive wheels. Their solutions allowed operations to continue until the cloud profiling radar was permanently turned off in December 2023.

„Part of who we are as a NASA family is that we have dedicated and talented teams that can do things that have never been done before,” said Deborah Vane, CloudSat's program manager at JPL. „We recovered from these anomalies with techniques that no one had used before.”

Sister satellites

CloudSat was launched on April 28, 2006 with a lidar-carrying satellite. Calypso (Abstract for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations). Both spacecraft joined the International Cluster of Weather and Climate-Monitoring Satellites in Earth orbit.

Radar and lidar are considered „active” sensors because they direct beams of energy at Earth—radio waves in the case of CloudChat and laser light in the case of CALIPSO—and measure how the beams reflect off clouds and fine particles (aerosols). Airspace. Other orbital science instruments use „passive” sensors that measure sunlight or radiation emitted from Earth or clouds.

Less than a minute apart, CloudSat and CALIPSO cross the equator from the north to the south pole in sun-synchronous orbits, crossing the equator each day at noon and after midnight. Their overlapping radar-lidar footprint influences cloud formation through the vertical structure of the atmosphere, including thin and thick clouds and layers of airborne particles such as dust, sea salt, ash, and soot.

READ  Away Team Tech: Proxima Centauri Interstellar Flyby Scientific Data Downlink Design

The impact of aerosols on clouds is a key question for global warming projections. The recently launched PACE satellite and future NASA missions will explore this and other questions Earth System Observatory Building on the legacy of CloudSat and CALIPSO for a new generation.

„Earth in 2030 will be different than Earth in 2000,” Stephens said. „The world has changed and the climate has changed. Continuing these measurements will give us new insights into changing weather patterns.

More about assignments

The CloudSat program is managed by JPL for NASA. JPL developed the Cloud Profiling Radar instrument with critical hardware contributions from the Canadian Space Agency. Colorado State University provides scientific data processing and distribution. BAE Systems of Broomfield, Colorado designed and built the spacecraft. The US Space Force and the US Department of Energy provided resources. US and international universities and research centers support the mission science team. Caltech in Pasadena, California manages JBL for NASA.

CALIPSO is a joint mission of NASA and the French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Études Spatiales). completed its work In August 2023.

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *