NASA has recently disclosed that its lidar satellite mission, which involved the emission of energy beams into the atmosphere for a duration of 17 years, has concluded in August. CALIPSO, a collaborative endeavor between NASA and the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), has depleted its fuel reserves. Consequently, owing to its deteriorating orbit, the satellite has lost its ability to generate adequate power for the functioning of its scientific instruments. Consequently, the two space agencies have mutually decided to terminate the mission on August 1, as announced by NASA on Tuesday. The mission involved the integration of an active lidar instrument, which is an acronym for light detection and ranging, with passive infrared and visible imagers to investigate the vertical structure and characteristics of thin clouds and aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere. Lidar and radar both emit beams of energy towards the Earth and subsequently measure the reflection of these beams off the clouds and aerosols. Lidar is classified as an active sensor in comparison to other scientific instruments that employ passive sensors to measure reflected sunlight or radiation emitted from the Earth or clouds. CALIPSO, which is an abbreviation for the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation, was launched on April 28, 2006, in conjunction with the cloud-profiling radar system on the CloudSat satellite.
CALIPSO utilized laser light, while CloudSat employed radio waves. According to Chip Trepte, NASA's project scientist for CALIPSO, "We had to construct a sophisticated lidar capable of functioning in space for the first time. Subsequently, we aimed to fly the satellite in close formation to match the CALIPSO lidar profile measurements with the radar profile measurements from CloudSat."
The two satellites were placed in Sun-synchronous orbits traversing from the North to the South poles, crossing the equator in the early afternoon each day. According to NASA, they conducted vertical atmospheric structure investigations, measuring the altitude of clouds and layers of airborne particles, including dust, sea salt, ash, and soot. The satellites provided scientists with unique and simultaneous observations, offering never-before-seen 3D perspectives on the formation of clouds and aerosols. Dave Winker, the principal investigator for CALIPSO, stated that one of the most significant applications of the mission was detecting the presence and measuring the altitude of ash plumes from volcanic eruptions. These observations were utilized by Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers worldwide to alert and direct commercial aviators to avoid flying into the plumes. He further added that he felt a sense of accomplishment that the mission they conceived 25 years ago operated successfully over an extended period.
NASA's Cloud Observing Satellite has bid farewell after a remarkable 17-year journey. The culmination of this mission occurred in early August, signifying the end of an era filled with invaluable scientific observations and groundbreaking discoveries.
Additional Articles from Gizmodo Researchers Discover Black Dust and Debris on Canister Housing Asteroid Sample Malevolent Mastermind Files Lawsuit Against Netflix Regarding Terminated Rebel Moon TTRPG Speculative Reports Emerge Regarding the Prospective Trajectory of James Bond Dan Harmon Provides Insights on Justin Roiland and the Fresh Vocal Cast of Rick and Morty
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is a federal agency of the United States government responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. It was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to the Soviet Union's launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. NASA's mission is to drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth. The agency has achieved numerous milestones in space exploration, including landing humans on the moon and sending robotic missions to Mars and beyond. NASA continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in space and inspire the next generation of explorers.