Colorado State University’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere has earned a top award from NASA for its ongoing data processing work on the CloudSat satellite orbiting Earth.
CloudSat, a satellite mission conceived by Colorado State Professor and Principal Investigator Graeme Stephens, is the world’s only cloud-profiling radar in orbit. NASA recently extended the CloudSat mission through 2011 and approved enhanced scientific experiments above and beyond the original proposal – the only Earth science mission granted that permission in the current evaluation of NASA’s operating Earth satellite missions, partly because of the success of CIRA’s work.
NASA honored CIRA with a Public Service Group Achievement Award for processing data that is critical to getting CloudSat’s information on the characteristics of clouds to the international science community. In the first 18 months of the CloudSat mission, CIRA has processed and distributed more than 1 million CloudSat data products, or about 43 terabytes of data, to scientists in 18 countries. A terabyte is one million megabytes; a megabyte has enough disk storage to hold about 20,000 average-sized e-mail messages.
NASA honored the CIRA and Science and Technology Corp.-METSAT division team of Ken Eis, Mike Hiatt, Phil Partain, Don Reinke, Dale Reinke and Laura Sample "for exceptional contributions to the CloudSat Mission in the design, development and implementation of the CloudSat Data Processing System."
"I’m proud of our CIRA scientists who strive to provide the best service as they conduct research that is of mutual benefit to our federal agencies, the university, state and nation," said Tom Vonder Haar, CIRA director. "CloudSat’s groundbreaking scientific results are truly benefiting scientists around the globe."
Most recently, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Colorado State and Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced CloudSat data has helped them develop a promising new technique for estimating the intensity of tropical cyclones from space. The method could one day supplement existing techniques, assist in designing future tropical cyclone satellite observing systems and improve disaster preparedness and recovery efforts.
The technique uses NASA satellite data, including simultaneous, accurate measurements of cloud-top temperatures from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and cloud-top height and cloud profiling information from NASA’s CloudSat satellite. Both satellites fly in formation as part of NASA’s "A-Train" of Earth-observing satellites.
CIRA is a center for international cooperation in research and training based at Colorado State University. CIRA was first established to increase the effectiveness of atmospheric research in areas of interest between Colorado State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has developed into a leader in many areas of climate research.