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NASA - The Cloud Profiling Radar
September 2, 2005
 

The Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) is a 94-GHz nadir-looking radar which measures the power backscattered by clouds as a function of distance from the radar. The CPR will be developed jointly by NASA/JPL and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The overall design of the CPR is simple, well understood, and has strong heritage from many cloud radars already in operation in ground-based and airborne applications. Most of the design parameters and subsystem configurations are nearly identical to those for the Airborne Cloud Radar, which has been flying on the NASA DC-8 aircraft since 1998.

artist's concept of CloudSat observing cloudsImage right: NASA's CloudSat spacecraft and its Cloud Profiling Radar use microwave energy to observe cloud particles and determine the mass of water and ice within clouds. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
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The design of the CPR is driven by the science objectives. The original requirements on CPR were: sensitivity defined by a minimum detectable reflectivity factor of -30 dBZ, along-track sampling of 2 km, a dynamic range of 70 dB, 500 m vertical resolution and calibration accuracy of 1.5 dB. The minimum detectable reflectivity factor requirement was reduced to -26 dBz when the mission was changed to put CloudSat into a higher orbit for formation flying.

To achieve sufficient cloud detection sensitivity, a relatively low frequency (i.e.

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Page Last Updated: August 14th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator