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Seminar: The use of Small Satellites for the Measurement of Aerosol, Cloud and Surface Properties and their Analogue Instrumentation at the Nose Level.

  • To
  • Atlantic Building, and Online
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Recent advances in small satellite platforms from CubeSats (the size of a loaf of bread), to satellites on the size range of a small refrigerator are allowing for impressive breakthroughs on the monitoring of the Earth System. The most diverse payloads varying from active RADARS and LIDARS to imagers and polarimeters, covering spectral ranges from UV to microwave, are now being miniaturized and optimized for low power/small footprint configurations to fit in the smallest platforms. In particular, the monitoring of clouds and aerosols by passive sensors, require a combination between wavelengths ranging from UV to TIR with relatively high resolution, which in the past has only been achieved by large sensors and enormous satellite platforms. Recent advances in imaging detectors, data processing electronics, and optics are now granting the miniaturization of advanced payloads to the level that a whole new array of science applications are possible with Small Satellites. Another benefit from the Small Satellites and miniaturized payloads is the lower cost of their development and launch. Thanks to this lower cost, we can now consider constellations with multiple sensor and platforms that were unthinkable in the past.

The HARP (Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter) satellite, which has flown and collected data from space for two years will be discussed in detail as an example of a satellite with the size of a shoebox with great ambition to produce big science results. Following HARP, we will discuss the current development of the HARP2 sensor, which will fly on board the NASA PACE (Phytoplankton, Aerosols, Clouds and Ecosystems) mission in 2023 to collect global data of aerosol, clouds and ocean properties.

As a second topic I will also discuss the synergy between in situ measurements at the level of human’s nose and the remote sensing measurements from space applied to air quality measurements. Novel in situ instrumentation that are currently under development will be presented as a direct counterpart to the new multi-angle/polarized measurements performed from space. We will also discuss the advantages and perspectives of using a constellation of Small Satellites for the measurement of aerosol and cloud properties on Earth’s atmosphere. This concept illustrates the benefits of using multiple platforms for such measurements, as well as the capabilities of miniaturized sensors to measure cloud and aerosol microphysical properties from the ultraviolet to thermal infrared wavelengths, as well as multi-angle polarized observations. Results from aircraft measurements will be presented to illustrate the data expected from this proposed mission concept, including a demonstration of the retrieval of the vertical profile of cloud droplet sizes and thermodynamic phase of convective clouds. As part of the proposed constellation, the aerosol context will be characterized with a multi-angle imaging polarimeter similar to HARP CubeSat.


Atlantic Building

In-person at Atlantic Building room 2400. For a Zoom link please contact


Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science

For disability accommodations, please contact Walter Tribett at

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