The CALIPSO satellite or Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation has taken observing clouds to the next dimension-vertical! A common satellite image that you may be familiar with is from the perspective of the satellite looking down at the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, almost like a two dimensional picture similar to the example to the left.
CALIPSO is unique in that it’s lidar provides a vertical, curtain-like measurement of the atmosphere, including clouds and aerosols. The curtain of data can then be processed many different ways, making specific features of the atmosphere clearer to the human eye. For example, the below image represents a vertical feature mask classifying clear air(dark blue), clouds (light blue), aerosols(orange), and the surface (green/grey) in reference to altitude.
Today, June 7th, 2016 we celebrate CALIPSO’s “First Light”, the date the satellite first successfully collected data. In it’s 10 year of operation the CALIPSO satellite has collected over 5.7 billion lidar measurements, helping to understand the affects of major environmental phenomena, the movement of clouds and aerosols around our globe, and much more!
To read more on CALIPSO’s decade of achievements please visit the following links:
To become a part of the action, making ground cloud observations and comparing your data to the CALISPO satellite, visit the NASA Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line (S’COOL)Project.