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Cloud-Aerosol Transport System on ISS (CATS on ISS)

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Status: Current
Mission Category: Other
Launch Date: January 10, 2015
Launch Location: NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Designed Life: January 10, 2018

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.

The CATS instrument is funded by the International Space Station NASA Research Office with supplemental funding for research from NASA’s Earth Science Division.

Key Cloud-Aerosol Transport System on ISS Facts

Mission/Portal Page:
Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Altitude:Distance from sea level. 420km
Inclination: 51.65°
Origination: NASA
Instruments: LIDAR
Principle Investigator(s): Matthew J McGill, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Related Publications:

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