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Flash of brilliance: CALIPSO satellite marks ‘first light’

07 June 2016

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On 7 June, 2006, the CALIPSO satellite got to work doing something that has made atmospheric scientists very, very happy over the last 10 years.

In an event known as "First Light," the satellite, whose name stands for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation, began collecting lidar measurements of the vertical structure and properties of Earth's clouds and atmospheric aerosols. Those aerosols are made up of things like dust, sea salt, ash and soot.

In April of 2010, CALIPSO spotted ash particles from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in the skies over France.

On its first day of operation, CALIPSO observed the layers of clouds and aerosols in an orbit over eastern Asia, Indonesia and Australia.

Since then, CALIPSO has used its lasers to take more than 5.7 billion lidar measurements.

Source: NASA

Image credit: NASA - CALIPSO spotted ash particles from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in the skies over France.

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