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BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. free-flying atmospheric lidar aboard NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) mission, fired its one billionth laser pulse over the Ivory Coast on Sunday, Feb. 3., making it the longest lasting, most powerful on-orbit space laser.
In congratulating NASA's Langley Research Center and the Centre National d'Etudes spatiales for CALIPSO's on-orbit milestone, Vice President and General Manager for Ball's Civil and Operational Space business unit, Cary Ludtke , said, "Exceeding one billion laser pulses is a significant milestone and validates the early risk reduction investments made by NASA and Ball Aerospace."
The Cloud-Aerosol LIdar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument aboard CALIPSO was developed by Ball Aerospace, its Virginia-based subcontractor, Fibertek, and NASA Langley. CALIOP is a two-wavelength polarization-sensitive lidar that provides high-resolution vertical profiles of aerosols and clouds. The CALIPSO mission is providing new insight into the role that clouds and atmospheric aerosol (airborne particles) play in regulating Earth's weather, climate, and air quality.
CALIPSO's technical and scientific success leveraged many innovative technologies including never-before-flown lasers, optical coatings and filters, computers, digitizers, pointing mechanisms, low-noise power supplies and microbolometer arrays. The flight risks associated with the laser were then managed jointly by Ball, Fibertek, and NASA to methodically bring spaceflight design, screening, environmental qualification, and contamination management disciplines to the early development program. NASA's Langley Research Center brought forth a solid history of lidar system design, low- noise receiver design practices, and calibration methods from the shuttle- based Lidar In-space Technology Experiment (LITE), and numerous aircraft-based and ground-based lidar projects.