CALIPSO

Overview

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite provides new insight into the role that clouds and atmospheric aerosols (airborne particles) play in regulating Earth's weather, climate, and air quality.

CALIPSO combines an active lidar instrument with passive infrared and visible imagers to probe the vertical structure and properties of thin clouds and aerosols over the globe. CALIPSO was launched on April 28, 2006 with the cloud profiling radar system on the CloudSat satellite.

CALIPSO and CloudSat are highly complementary and together provide new, never-before-seen 3-D perspectives of how clouds and aerosols form, evolve, and affect weather and climate. CALIPSO and CloudSat fly in formation with three other satellites in the A-train constellation to enable an even greater understanding of our climate system from the broad array of sensors on these other spacecraft.

CALIPSO is a joint U.S. (NASA) and French (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales/CNES) satellite mission that has been in operation for four years. 

Learn more: https://www-calipso.larc.nasa.gov/

Disasters Applications

  • The CALIOP instrument is a two-wavelength polarization-sensitive lidar that provides high-resolution vertical profiles of aerosols and clouds.
  • CALIOP provides information on smoke plume injection height and the vertical distribution of aerosols through the atmosphere. These lidar data are unique in their ability to detect optically thin smoke layers at a fine vertical resolution, and CALIOP is able to view extensive smoke plumes that do not have clear boundaries. When paired with models, this instrument is able to provide novel information, such as the attribution of a river of smoke to numerous fires and the evolution of smoke-plume injection height over a day, which has implications for climate (black carbon transport and deposition on snow and ice, albedo change), air quality and human health.  (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/nasa-covers-wildfires-from-man...
  • CALIOP can be used to identify ice cloud particles within tropical cyclones and other storms systems to complement observations from other satellites such as CloudSat (https://disasters.nasa.gov/super-typhoon-yutu-2018/calipso-and-cloudsat-...

Latest Updates

February 3, 2020
Carbon monoide levels measured by the Aura MLS instrument from July 2019 - January 2020. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 
Carbon monoxide levels measured by the Aura MLS instrument from July 2019 - January 2020. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory  Bushfires have raged in Victoria and New South Wales since November 2019, yielding startling satellite images of smoke plumes streaming from southeastern Australia on a near daily basis. The images got even more eye-popping in January 2020 when...
January 9, 2020
Credits: NASA Langley/Roman Kowch
The devastating fires in southeastern Australia have renewed focus on the dangers that extreme drought and heat can pose to society. Last week, fires erupted near populated areas in Victoria and New South Wales with destructive effects, resulting in one of Australia’s largest evacuations. NASA’s CALIPSO satellite provided data for a new animation that showed the aerosols generated from the smoke has spread high into the atmosphere and far to the east over the Pacific Ocean.
November 10, 2018
Images showing smoke plume data from California Wildfires
The recent catastrophic fires in California have yielded scenes of chaos in the region and the NASA Disasters program is working on providing the most recent satellite information that could help people on the ground. Dispersed smoke through the region has serious impacts on air quality and satellite information can bring several perspectives of smoke layers that are released into the atmosphere. Two satellites, the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or...
November 1, 2018
CALIPSO lidar observes the top of Typhoon Yutu
CALIPSO and CloudSat, two satellites in the newly formed C-Train, captured a stunning overpass through the eye of Typhoon Yutu on October 28th, 2018 at 04:58 UTC as the storm was approaching the Philippines in the West Pacific. Typhoon Yutu contained estimated sustained winds of 120 knots (138 mph) with a minimum pressure of 933 mb, the equivalent of a Category 4 strength storm. At the time of the overpass, Typhoon Yutu was beginning a period of weakening as the storm was moving into less favorable atmospheric conditions, including lower sea surface temperatures. The storm left a trail of...
February 2, 2017
On January 24, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this false-color image of scorched land flanked by actively burning fires.
On January 24, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this false-color image of scorched land flanked by actively burning fires.  Wildfires continued to ravage Chile’s countryside in early February 2017, weeks after they flared up in mid-January. The blazes have thwarted firefighters’ efforts to control them, with new hot spots emerging daily. Satellite data and scientific analysis suggest the fires are among the worst the country has seen in decades....