Canadian technology launched onboard CloudSat satellite

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Friday, April 28, 2006

Longueuil, Quebec, April 28, 2006 - Today marks the successful launch of NASA's CloudSat satellite. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) provided a crucial high-power technological component to the cloud radar onboard CloudSat that will help researchers improve weather forecasting in the future and better understand climate change. CloudSat was placed on a 705-kilometre polar orbit this morning by a Delta II rocket launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California.

"The launch of this satellite is an example of how international cooperation provides advancements in science and technology," says the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry. "This Canadian Space Agency partnership underlines Canada's world-class technology."

During its mission, CloudSat will help an international team of scientists improve weather forecasting and climate modeling in the future. The CSA contributed  $17.5 million to the CloudSat mission for hardware and software development supporting the satellite's cloud-profiling radar (CPR). This instrument, built at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with hardware contributions by CPI Canada Inc. of Georgetown, Ontario, and COM DEV International, of Cambridge, Ontario, is over a thousand times more sensitive than current weather radars. It can detect clouds and distinguish between cloud particles and precipitation.

Flying in formation with four other Earth Observing System satellites - NASA's Aqua and Aura satellites, and France's PARASOL and Calipso - CloudSat becomes part of the A-Train Constellation. Data collected by these five satellites will be much more useful when combined. Synergy between the measurements will provide new insights into rain and snow formations processes, as well as the role played by clouds in determining Earth's global climate.

After launch, the Canadian validation project will investigate the applicability of the satellite data and their products to the northern climate.  This focus on cold-season clouds will complement validations planned for Europe, the United States, Japan, and Australia that are focused on warm-season, convective-cloud systems.  There is a strong commitment by Canadian researchers to employ validated CloudSat products in various meteorological and climatological applications.

Colorado State University provides scientific leadership and science data processing and distribution. In Canada, the science team is led by researchers from the Science and Technology Branch of Environment Canada and it includes scientists from the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, McGill University and l'Université du Québec à Montréal.

For Canadian content of the mission and animations, visit:

For more information:

Julie Simard
Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: (450) 926-4370

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