Europe to launch a new Earth observation satellite tonight


Artist’s view of EarthCARE on board a Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Equipped with four instruments, the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite mission has been designed to make a range of different measurements that together will shed new light on the role that clouds and aerosols play in regulating Earth’s climate. ESA – P. Carril

Tonight, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its latest mission: a satellite called EarthCARE, which will observe clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere to learn more about climate change. The launch will be live streamed, so if you’d like to watch along and learn about this new mission, then we have all the details on how to watch below.

What to expect from the launch

The EarthCARE mission will be launched using a SpaceX Falcon 9, and the launch will take place from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The mission’s full name, Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, demonstrates what the satellite is designed to do: research aerosols in the atmosphere and how they contribute to atmospheric heating and cooling. A big part of this research is understanding the role of clouds in this heating and cooling process, which is important for long-term research into climate change.

The mission has four instruments — two active and two passive, including a radar, a lidar, an imager, and a radiometer. Together these instruments will gather data on the profiles and vertical motions of clouds and the profiles of aerosols in the atmosphere, which will be matched to data about the distance from Earth’s surface and big-picture images.

“The four instruments on EarthCARE will deliver detailed information through the depth of the atmosphere that will allow scientists to improve their models, leading to improved precision in forecasts of global temperature evolution,” explained Kotska Wallace, EarthCARE Mission and Optical Payload Manager.

The mission is a collaboration between ESA and the Japanese space agency JAXA, which has provided one of the instruments, with the U.S. company SpaceX providing the launch vehicle.

How to watch the launch

The launch is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. PT tonight, Tuesday, May 28. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. ET, so you can tune in to see the final preparations for the launch as well as hear from mission scientists about what they hope to learn using this new instrument.

You can watch either by heading to ESA’s YouTube page for the launch, or by using the video embedded below:

ESA’s EarthCARE launch (Official broadcast)

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