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[Source: NASA Science Missions Directorate, http://nasascience.nasa.gov/missions/calipso
The CALIPSO satellite was developed to help scientists answer significant questions and provide new ... information about the effects of clouds and aerosols (airborne particles) on changes in the Earth's climate. Understanding these components will provide the international science community with a more comprehensive data set that is essential for a better understanding of the Earth's climatic processes. Accurate climate model predictions will provide international and national leaders accurate information to make more informed policy decisions about global climate change.
CALIPSO flies a 3-channel lidar with a suite of passive instruments in formation with Aqua to obtain coincident observations of radiative fluxes and atmospheric conditions. This enables new observationally based assessments of the radiative effects of aerosol and clouds that will greatly improve out ability to predict future climate change.
CloudSat also flies in formation with CALIPSO to provide a comprehensive characterization of the structure and composition of clouds and their effects on climate under all weather conditions. This comprehensive set of measurements is essential for accurate quantification of global aerosol and cloud radiative effects to understand their role in formation and variation of Earth's climate. This is a cooperative mission with France.
For more information on CALIPSO, see:
Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA