CALIPSO's First Look At Earth Air
The space agency’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) opened its camera eye over Eastern Asia, Indonesia and Australia to build this image of what Earth’s atmosphere looks like to a laser ranging (lidar) instrument.(referring to above image)
While NASA released this image on July 24,2006, CALIPSO actually recorded the data on June 7.
The orange and red colors signify regions of fine particles – known as aerosols – that hang suspended above Earth’s surface in the planet’s atmosphere. The green-yellow and blue hues are lidar (Light Detection and Ranging,from csc.noaa.gov) reflections from air molecules.
Clouds can be easily seen, since they show as bright pink and white signals. Some formations appear dense enough to prevent CALIPSO’s lidar signal from penetrating through, yielding black regions beneath the clouds.
A cooperative effort between NASA and the French Space Agency (CNES), CALIPSO launched on April 28, 2006 with its fellow cloud-watching satellite CloudSat. The two satellites are part of a train of Earth-watching spacecraft to monitor the planet’s atmosphere and water cycle.
CALIPSO’s primary goal is to track natural and human-caused aerosols to study how they affect climate change, temperature variations and contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming, mission scientists have said.