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Associated Platforms

Spectral/Frequency Information
Wavelength Keyword: RADIO
Spectral/Frequency Coverage/Range: 94 GHz

Related Data Sets
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[Source: NASA CloudSat home page]

The Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) is a 94-GHz nadir-looking radar which measures the power backscattered by clouds as a function of distance from the radar. The CPR was developed jointly by NASA/JPL and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The overall design of the CPR is simple, well understood, and has strong heritage from 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 design of the CPR is driven by the science objectives. The original requirements on CPR were: sensitivity defined by a minimum detectable reflectivity factor of -30 dBZ, along-track sampling of 2 km, a dynamic range of 70 dB, 500 m vertical resolution and calibration accuracy of 1.5 dB. The minimum detectable reflectivity factor requirement was reduced to -26 dBZ when the mission was changed to put CloudSat into a higher orbit for formation flying.

To achieve sufficient cloud detection sensitivity, a relatively low frequency (i.e. <94 GHz) radar would require an enormous antenna and high peak power. At frequencies much greater than 100 GHz, a large antenna and high peak power are also needed due to rapid signal attenuation through cloud absorption. Furthermore, technologies at such high frequencies are less well developed. The 94-GHz frequency chosen by CPR offers the best compromise, meeting performance within the spacecraft resources. In fact, most existing airborne cloud radars operate at 94 GHz. These airborne radars provide extensive heritage for CPR on instrument design and technology, data processing, and retrieval algorithms. A primary frequency allocation of 94 GHz for spaceborne cloud radar sensing has been formally approved at the 1997 World Radio Conference.

Online Resources

Instrument Logistics
Data Rate: 15 kbps
Instrument Owner: USA/NASA