Researchers from The Cyprus Institute’s Climate and Atmosphere Research Center (CARE-C), coordinated by Prof Franco Marenco, are actively involved with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) upcoming EarthCARE satellite mission, focused on cloud, aerosol and radiation exploration. EarthCARE is a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and this latest mission is the most complex to date.
EarthCARE (Earth Cloud, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer) aims to significantly improve our understanding of how clouds and aerosols (atmospheric particulates such as pollution and Saharan dust) influence the climate by exploring how they affect reflecting incident solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface. The data collected by the EarthCARE mission will provide information on the relationship of clouds, aerosols, and radiation at an unprecedented level of accuracy, helping to improve predictions about the weather and the future climate.
The EarthCARE mission is scheduled for launch in 2024 and the CARE-C team will be performing specific activities for the validation and calibration of this novel satellite. Specifically, an Unmanned Systems Research Laboratory (USRL) team will conduct highly advanced observations of atmospheric composition, including the number and properties of particles from the ground to an altitude of about 6,000m, using bespoke Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) developed in-house. Moreover, a Cyprus Atmospheric Observatory (CAO) team will collect information on the amount of dust and pollution suspended in the upper atmospheric layers. Sampling of the layers in the upper atmosphere is of significant importance for the calibration and validation of EarthCARE, which collects information on the 3-dimensional distribution of atmospheric particles and not just what is collected on the ground. Scientific activities in preparation of the launch of EarthCARE are already underway and on October 25, 2023, the first dedicated UAV flight took place. Additional activities are scheduled to take place for the duration of the EarthCARE mission.
A team from the Cyprus Atmospheric Remote Sensing Observatory (CARO) of the Eratosthenes Center of Excellence, is also participating in the campaign. The strong participation of Cyprus scientists, including the partnership of two European Research Centers of Excellence, strengthens Cyprus’ contribution to the success of this space mission and highlights our country’s research and innovation talent in advancing breakthrough science at an international level.
EarthCARE calibration and validation activities are organized by national facilities from 42 atmospheric measurements stations across 18 different countries, coordinated through the EU Horizon-2020 project ATMO-ACCESS and integrates observations to scientists’ networks across European, Asia and Africa.
ATMO-ACCESS is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through the ATMO-ACCESS Integrating Activity under grant agreement No 101008004.