Artist's Concept of CloudSat
|Major contractors||Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.|
|Mission type||Earth orbiter|
|Launch date||April 28, 2006|
|Launch vehicle||Delta II|
|Mission duration||22 months primary mission|
|Homepage||CloudSat home page|
CloudSat is a NASA Earth observation satellite, which was launched on a Delta II rocket on 28 April 2006. It uses radar to measure the altitude and properties of clouds, adding to information on the relationship between clouds and climate in order to help resolve questions about global warming.
CloudSat's primary mission was scheduled to continue for 22 months in order to allow more than one seasonal cycle to be observed.
The main instrument on CloudSat is the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR), a 94-GHz nadir-looking radar that measures the power backscattered by clouds as a function of distance from the radar. The radar instrument was developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) in Pasadena, California, with hardware contributions from the Canadian Space Agency. The overall design of the CPR is simple, well understood, and has a strong heritage from the many cloud radars already in operation in ground-based and airborne applications. Most of the design parameters and subsystem configurations are nearly identical to those for the Airborne Cloud Radar, which has been flying on the NASA DC-8 aircraft since 1998.
The CPR capitalizes on existing radar expertise and experience at JPL. Other radars already flown successfully or being developed by JPL include the Seasat SAR, the Shuttle Imaging Radars (SIR-A, SIR-B, SIR-C), the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), Magellan Venus Radar Mapper, Cassini Radar (mapping Saturn's moon Titan), NSCAT, QuickScat, and SeaWinds.
Based on radar lifetime data, NASA expects the radar to operate for three years with a 99% probability.
CloudSat is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Colorado State University provides scientific leadership and science data processing and distribution. The cost of this project is approximately 200 million dollars.
 See also
- "CloudSat Press Kit". NASA/JPL.
- Cloudsat home
- Cloudsat data center
- CloudSat and the A Train
- CloudSat Mission Profile by NASA's Solar System Exploration
- Spacecraft seek climate clarity
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