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this image shows light clouds on the dark blue background banner: CloudSat, image of the satellite
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Formation Flying
Cloud Art
Science Team
this image shows clouds in the background
this image shows clouds in the background
Mission: Operations

The U. S. Air Force Space Test Program provides ground operations and manages communications for CloudSat. CloudSat mission data are transmitted via the spacecraft S-band downlink to the Air Force Satellite Control Network and then to the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Support Complex at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The data are downlinked up to about 10 times per day, providing a data latency of about 2 to 4 hours. The data are then distributed to the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) for science processing, with mission and state-of-health information being sent to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, and to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. CIRA processes the data into scientific data products, archives, and distributes the data to the international research community. Some portion of the data is processed and distributed to operational centers for use in near-real-time assimilation and cloud forecast evaluations. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for mission management during mission operations.

CloudSat Data Access

During the operations phase of the mission, CloudSat data are stored and distributed by the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), which provides an on-line data access system that allows users to view browse images and order data by date/time interval and geographic location. Ordered data are placed on an ftp server for retrieval by the requestor.

Several features of the data ordering system allow users to request subsets of the larger CloudSat data product list-thus minimizing the volume of data that they must pull over to their local system. Users are allowed to specify specific fields within a data product that they need for their research. They are also able to create "custom products" that combine fields from multiple standard data products into a single file. In addition, users are able to set filters on the data to select, for example, orbits that contain a higher percentage of ocean (vs. land) points, or granules that contain less than 30 percent cloud cover, etc.

Data are made available to the CloudSat science team followed by a release to the scientific community by CIRA within six weeks after the science team has assessed the data and its validation. Additional information on CloudSat data access can be found at the CloudSat Data Processing Center website: