ESA reveals the secrets of the clouds for the first time

ESA reveals the secrets of the clouds for the first time

Last May 29 The European Space Agency (ESA) Launched Earthcare in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).. Launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg, California, the satellite “will shed new light on the role that clouds and aerosols play in regulating Earth by making a variety of different measurements.” Climate. After less than a month it is already showing results.

ESA released this Thursday The first image taken from space reveals the internal structure and dynamics of clouds. The photo, captured by Earthcare, provides “a simple view of the instrument’s full potential once fully calibrated,” according to the European agency.


“The figure is shown in two parts. On the left, the data reveals the vertical concentration of cloud particles measured as radar reflectivity. This is clear. It is the densest part of the cloud because there are more large particles in its center.“, they explained from ESA.

And they added: “On the right we see the speed of the falling cloud particles. Low values ​​in the upper layer represent ice cubes and snowflakes They are suspended or slowly falling. In the bottom layer, higher fall velocity values ​​indicate rain. Both images show a clear boundary at an altitude of about 5 km, where ice accumulates and snow melts, forming droplets that fall as rain. “Cloud profiling radar uses its Doppler velocity capability to measure the vertical speed of movement of snow, ice and rain.”

This detailed information about the density, size distribution, and velocity of particles allows scientists to distinguish the components of clouds and better understand their physics. “On June 13, we are pleased to present this first image revealing the details of the internal structure of cloud dynamics in the ocean east of Japan. This is the first film.
We have never received such information from space
. It was everything we hoped for, and more. I believe the Cloud Profiling Radar will bring about a variety of scientific discoveries,” said Takuji Kubota, JAXA mission scientist for the Cloud Profiling Radar.

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Usually this data can only be obtained using cloud radars on the ground or in aircraft.. But these methods can only measure limited areas. Conversely, the cloud profiling radar on the Earthcare satellite makes it possible to measure cloud structure uniformly across the planet.

“S This first result from our JAXA partners was a fantastic experience and a true indication of what we can expect In the near future the satellite and all its instruments will be fully calibrated and put into service,” commented Simonetta Celli, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs.

Earthcare combines four state-of-the-art tools designed to work in harmony. These images were originally taken by the Cloud Profiling Radar instrument. Three other instruments are expected to begin collecting data in the coming months: the Broadband Radiometer, the Atmospheric Lidar and the Multispectral Imager.

The key to this task is that all four tools work together to give us a holistic view “Understanding the more complex interactions between clouds, aerosols, incoming solar energy and outgoing heat radiation will help us better predict future climate trends,” added Chely.


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