- The Earth Observer Newsletter
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NASA and its international partners operate several Earth-observing satellites that closely follow one after another along the same orbital “track.” This coordinated group of satellites, constituting a significant subset of NASA’s current operating major satellite missions, is called the Afternoon Constellation, or the A-Train, for short. The satellites are in a polar orbit, crossing the equator northbound at about 1:30 p.m. local time, within seconds to minutes of each other. This allows near-simultaneous observations of a wide variety of parameters to aid the scientific community in advancing our knowledge of Earth-system science and applying this knowledge for the benefit of society. Six satellites currently fly in the A-Train: GCOM-W1, Aqua, CALIPSO, CloudSat, PARASOL, and Aura. On November 16, 2011, PARASOL was lowered to 9.5 km under the A-Train and continues its nominal mission observing clouds and aerosols. OCO-2 is scheduled to join the configuration in 2014.
|Aqua||Current, Extended Mission|
|Aura||Current, Extended Mission|
|Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO)||Current, Extended Mission|
|CloudSat||Current, Extended Mission|
|Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2)||Current|
|Polarization & Anisotropy of Reflectances for Atmospheric Sciences coupled with Observations from a Lidar (PARASOL)||Completed|
|The Global Change Observation Mission-Water (GCOM-W1)||Current|