The Delta II rocket with CALIPSO and CloudSat on Launch Pad SLC-2W, VAFB.
CALIPSO is a joint NASA (USA) and CNES (France) environmental satellite, built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center, which was launched atop a Delta II rocket on April 28, 2006. Its name stands for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations.
Passive and active remote sensing Instruments on board the CALIPSO satellite monitor aerosols and clouds 24 hours a day. CALIPSO is part of the "A Train", flying in formation with several other satellites (Aqua, Aura and CloudSat).
Imaging Infrared Radiometer (IIR) - used to detect cirrus cloud emissivity and particle size. The CALIOP laser beam is aligned with the center of the IIR image to optimize joint CALIOP/IIR observations.
In February 2009, CALIPSO switched over to the redundant laser as scheduled. The primary laser achieved its mission goal of three years of successful operation, and the redundant laser has been performing beyond expectations.
The CALIPSO mission was granted extended mission status in June 2009.