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Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS)

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Status: Future
Mission Category: Other
Launch Date: December 2014

The Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) investigation uses a remote sensing, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), instrument designed to provide measurements of the particulate contents within the atmosphere including clouds and aerosols. The CATS instrument uses a laser to provide data on the location, composition and distribution of atmospheric constituents which impact the climate on a global scale. Obtaining a better understanding of cloud and aerosol coverage and properties is critical for understanding and modeling of the Earth system and associated climate feedback processes.

CATS is an attached payload for the Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility, or JEM-EF onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The CATS project is not a "business as usual" project - it is specifically intended to demonstrate a low-cost, streamlined approach to developing ISS science payloads.

CATS is sponsored by NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD).

Key Cloud-Aerosol Transport System Facts

Mission/Portal Page: http://cats.gsfc.nasa.gov
Launch Vehicle: Japanese H-II Transfer Ve-hicle
Altitude:Distance from sea level. 420km
Inclination: 51.65°
Origination: NASA
Principle Investigator(s): Matthew J McGill, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Science Goals:

  • Provide near-real-time measurements of clouds and aerosols that can be assimilated into aerosol transport models
  • Provide on-orbit tech demo for high rep-rate laser, photon-counting detection, and 355 nm laser operation in-space
  • Provide risk reduction for future Earth Science missions
  • Provide long-term (6 months to 3 years) operational science from ISS