Aerosols and clouds have important effects on Earth's climate through their effects on the radiation budget and the cycling of water between the atmosphere and Earth's surface. Limitations in our understanding of the global distribution and properties of aerosols and clouds are partly responsible for the current uncertainties in modeling the global climate system and predicting climate change. The CALIPSO satellite was developed as a joint project between NASA and the French space agency CNES to provide needed capabilities to observe aerosols and clouds from space. CALIPSO carries CALIOP, a two-wavelength, polarization-sensitive lidar, along with two passive sensors operating in the visible and thermal infrared spectral regions. CALIOP is the first lidar to provide long-term atmospheric measurements from Earth's orbit. Its profiling and polarization capabilities offer unique measurement capabilities. Launched together with the CloudSat satellite in April 2006 and now flying in formation with the A-train satellite constellation, CALIPSO is now providing information on the distribution and properties of aerosols and clouds, which is fundamental to advancing our understanding and prediction of climate. This paper provides an overview of the CALIPSO mission and instruments, the data produced, and early results.

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NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS-INSU, IPSL, LATMOS, Paris, France

College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

École Polytechnique, LMD, IPSL, Palaiseau, France

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

Université Pierre et Marie Curie, EN S, École Polytechnique, CNRS-INSU, IPSL, LMD, Paris, France

Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia