NASA to study clouds, dust from space station using CATS

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2014, 03:13 AM IST
NASA to study clouds, dust from space station using CATS

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: NASA scientists have developed an instrument called the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) with an aim to study the layers and composition of clouds and other atmospheric particles like dust, smoke and aerosols.

According to the US space agency, the instrument, will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2014.

Different types of clouds and aerosols can be found at varying heights in the atmosphere.

Depending on their properties and location, they can have varying radiative effects on Earth’s climate system.

Matt McGill, principal investigator at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland was quoted as saying: “Clouds are one of the largest uncertainties in predicting climate change. For scientists to create more accurate models of Earth’s current and future climate, they will have to include more accurate representations of clouds”.

From space, streaks of white clouds can be seen moving across Earth’s surface.

Other tiny solid and liquid particles called aerosols are also being transported around the atmosphere, but these are largely invisible to our eyes.

Aerosols are both natural and man-made and include windblown desert dust, sea salt, smoke from fires, sulfurous particles from volcanic eruptions, and particles from fossil fuel combustion.

CATS will provide data about aerosols at different levels of the atmosphere.

The data are expected to improve scientists' ability to track different cloud and aerosol types throughout the atmosphere.

The information could also feed into climate models to help understand the effects of clouds and aerosols on Earth’s energy balance.

(With Agency inputs)