NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center is preparing ahead of the Jan. 6 launch of the Clouds and Aerosol Transport System aboard the SpaceX CRS-5 mission to the International Space Station, Federal News Radio reported Friday.
Michael O’Connell writes that CATS was designed to monitor cloud and aerosol distribution in the atmosphere using a low-pulse energy laser and will be the first Goddard-developed instrument at ISS.
CATS will help Goddard track atmospheric hazards, climate change and air quality, the report said.
“Our goal [is] to take data from CATS, get it into forecast models, in particular aerosol forecast models, because those models need this vertical distribution,” said Matthew McGill, principal investigator for CATS at Goddard.
“[We] need to know where there are pollutants and what height in the atmosphere they’re at. What are they comprised of?”
McGill added that the instrument also serves as a platform for technology demonstration to support future, bigger missions.
“Not only is it going to show a new capability for observations, but it’s going to show some very important science data that’s going to be important to the Earth-science community and to global climate research,” noted Christyl Johnson, Goddard deputy director for technology and research investments.