What we did
Instrument & communications provider, payload integrator
We built the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and wide-field camera instruments, the communications equipment, and integrated the payload. The LIDAR scans the atmosphere with green and infrared laser light and detects backscatter from clouds and aerosols. The wide-field visible light camera and a three-color infrared imaging radiometer are part of the payload system and record additional information about clouds and aerosols.
Originally designed for a program life of three years, CALIPSO has traveled more than 1.2 billion miles, orbited the Earth 42,900 times, and has produced more than 92 terabytes of data in nine years on orbit. The CALIPSO LIDAR instrument registered firing over three billion laser shots on its redundant laser. The primary laser fired 1.6 billion shots before it was shut down. More than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers have been written based on CALIPSO data.
Both CALIPSO and CloudSat were built on cost-capped budgets for NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program and have delivered high value science far exceeding mission design life. In 2007, a year after launch, our CALIPSO team received a Group Achievement Award from NASA.