CNES projects library
The Parasol microsatellite developed by CNES analysed the characteristics of light reflected by Earth and its atmosphere from 2004 to 2013, to gain new insights into how clouds and aerosols impact our climate. To accomplish this mission, it relied on the POLDER instrument (Polarization and Directionality of the Earth's Reflectances) developed by the LOA atmospheric optics laboratory in Lille (CNRS-USTL). Data collected daily with POLDER were then matched to measurements acquired by Aqua, Aura, Calipso and CloudSat, four spacecraft flying with Parasol in the A-Train, a constellation of satellites trailing one another by a few minutes in the same Earth orbit.
Parasol’s science mission came to an end on 11 October 2013. The microsatellite was subsequently removed from the A-Train constellation after a series of manoeuvres completed on 18 December 2013. In the final analysis, the mission was a great success: while Parasol was initially planned to operate for 2 years, it continued acquiring data for 9 years for the benefit of CNES’s teams.