But it is not undertaking this mission alone. Operating in formation with 5 other satellites, Parasol will be one component of an orbital observatory designed to probe the atmosphere from every angle, heralding exciting times ahead for climate researchers.
Taking the A-train
The Parasol payload draws extensively on the heritage of the POLDER instrument. What is new about its mission, however, is the role it is expected to play in a unique space observatory known as the A-train. This formation of 6 French-U.S. satellites will be able to observe the same atmospheric phenomena within minutes of each other, looking at different physical characteristics.
Sitting on the launch adaptor with its co-passengers, Parasol will be the last to be injected into near-circular orbit at an altitude of 705 km. CNES will perform positioning operations for all 6 satellites: the Helios IIA military satellite, to be positioned with respect to its predecessor Helios IB; the 4 microsatellites in the Essaim formation; and Parasol in the A-train. An unprecedented, ultra-precise orbital dance choreographed by operations teams.
|(CNES, NASA)||Vertical distribution of clouds and aerosols||2006|
|Cloudsat (NASA, Canadian Space Agency)||Vertical distribution of clouds and aerosols||2006|
|Parasol (CNES)||Characterization of radiative and microphysical properties of clouds and aerosols||2004|
|Aqua (NASA)||Study of water/atmosphere exchanges||2002|
|Aura (NASA)||Atmospheric chemistry||2004|
|OCO (NASA)||Atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide||2007|