Calipso was launched 28 April 2006 in tandem with the U.S. CloudSat satellite. Together, the pair joined the A-Train constellation alongside their 3 other French and U.S. companion satellites: Aqua, Aura (NASA) and Parasol (CNES). NASA’s OCO satellite is set to complete this constellation next year. The main innovation on Calipso is its highly sophisticated CALIOP lidar capable of recording precise vertical profiles of the atmosphere.
Aqua soon to jump the train
But, like us humans, satellites are not immortal. “The Aqua satellite that has been supplying us with precious data will soon reach the end of its scheduled mission,” explains Jacques Pelon. “It won’t be replaced, but satellites often continue operating well past their design life.”
As the constellation’s mission is not expected to exceed 5 years, scientists have no time to lose and the French science team has a lot of work on its plate.
* Research director at CNRS’s aeronomy laboratory (SA) - Pierre et Marie Curie University
23 January 2007
Calipso flying high
6 December 2006