Colorado State University’s Nasa Cloudsat Mission Teams Up with Thailand Students to Gather Cloud Information

Colorado State University’s NASA CloudSat mission today signed an international memorandum of understanding with the Thailand Research Fund that will join Thai students and scientists with CloudSat scientists at Colorado State. The students will actively collect scientifically relevant data on clouds and precipitation, and the information will be made available to CloudSat scientists to support the satellite’s radar data.

The CloudSat project, a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder mission, will launch into orbit the world’s most advanced weather radar designed to measure properties of clouds that are essential for accurate understanding of Earth’s weather and climate processes. Colorado State Atmospheric Science Professor Graeme Stephens leads the CloudSat project. Launch of the satellite is planned for June 2005 from California.

"The primary benefits to participating students who join the CloudSat Education Network include the chance to correspond with other students around the world, opportunities to make scientific contributions to a satellite mission and the ability to correspond with scientists," Stephens said. "Colorado State and the CloudSat mission also benefit from this partnership by expanding our international ties with universities and scientists. In addition, CloudSat scientists are planning to compare the ground-based data collected by the students to the satellite’s radar data."

CloudSat is a multi-satellite, multi-sensor experiment designed to measure those properties of clouds that are critical for understanding their effects on both weather and climate. These properties of clouds are not obtainable from current satellite measurement systems. The mission’s primary scientific goal is to furnish data needed to evaluate and improve the way clouds are parameterized in global models, thereby contributing to better predictions of clouds and thus helping to resolve certain poorly understood cloud-climate relationships.

The CloudSat Education Network is based on the GLOBE Program, a highly successful international K-12 program where students take scientific measurements of clouds, precipitation, soil moisture and water quality. The data are entered into a central computer database maintained by GLOBE. Colorado State is one of the administrators of GLOBE together with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, or UCAR, in Boulder.

The kind of ground-based observation data collected by students can be useful to scientists involved in remote-sensing missions like CloudSat. CloudSat schools will be primarily a subset of existing GLOBE schools. Like GLOBE, participation in the CloudSat Education Network is voluntary and there is no exchange of funds with international schools.

Participation in the CloudSat Education Network can provide students the opportunity to:

–     Develop basic numeric skills by gathering and processing environmental information that can be used by scientists to compliment the measurements taken by the CloudSat satellite.

–     Develop practical science skills by measuring, recording and analyzing local environmental measurements.

–     Communicate and learn with other students from around the world using appropriate information and communications technologies.

–     Interface with the CloudSat Education Network Web site that will offer materials and ideas to support the educational goals of member schools.

–     Liaise with, ask questions and offer ideas to the CloudSat Science Mission team.

The CloudSat Educational Network will be an international program involving 100 schools. Currently the program has schools from Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, Cameroon, Croatia, Germany, Thailand and the United States that are prepared to participate. Existing and new contacts are being pursued in Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Taiwan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Pakistan. Schools through existing networks such as GLOBE have been targeted and contacts are being made in Russia, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Canada and China.

More information about the CloudSat project is available on the Web at Additional information about the CloudSat Education Network is available by contacting Debbie Krumm.