|National Aeronautics and Space Administration
CloudSat is a satellite mission designed to measure the vertical structure of clouds from space and, for the first time, will simultaneously observe cloud phase and radiative properties. The primary CloudSat instrument is a 94-GHz, nadir-pointing, Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR). A unique aspect of this mission is the fact that CloudSat is flying in formation with other Earth Sciences satellites, dubbed the A-Train. The A-Train constellation currently includes NASA's EOS Aqua and Aura satellites as well as a NASA-CNES lidar satellite (CALIPSO), and a CNES satellite carrying a polarimeter (PARASOL). CloudSat must fly a precise orbit to enable the field of view of the CloudSat radar to be overlapped with the lidar footprint and other measurements of the constellation. The precision of this overlap creates a unique multi-satellite virtual platform observing system for studying the atmospheric processes of the hydrological cycle.
CIRA provides all of the science data processing support for the mission. Four universities and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) are participants on the CloudSat algorithm development team. During the current Operational (on-orbit) Phase, the Data Processing Center (DPC) is staffed by CIRA employees and part-time CSU or high school students.