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CloudSat and CALIPSO Satellites Return Unprecedented Images
July 25, 2006
BOULDER, Colo. – Scientists around the world can now glimpse inside Earth’s storms with the instruments aboard two Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Earth-observation missions launched earlier this year.
The CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites launched on April 28 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California have now completed commissioning activities. Ball Aerospace built the spacecraft bus for CloudSat, and the payload of scientific instruments that includes the CALIOP LIDAR and Wide-Field Camera (WFC) for CALIPSO. Both missions are designed to improve our understanding of Earth's weather, climate, and air quality by revealing 3-D details of clouds and the hidden characteristics of aerosols.
CloudSat transitioned to its operational mode on June 2, when the Cloud Profiling Radar was activated. On June 6, NASA released the first pictures returned from CloudSat, showing a storm over the North Sea in the North Atlantic approaching Greenland. Since then, the satellite’s scanning radar system has continued performing flawlessly. CloudSat carries a millimeter wavelength Cloud-Profiling Radar which is more than 1,000 times more sensitive than typical weather radar.
CALIPSO’s instruments were turned on sequentially with the first infrared images from its Infrared Imaging Radiometer arriving on May 11, followed by visible images from the WFC on May 18. The LIDAR, made up of a laser transmitter and a three-channel receiver, were aligned on June 7. Following the payload’s downlink and delivery of that data, NASA’s Langley Research Center released the first LIDAR science images, which illustrate the layering of the atmosphere. Highlights of the image include a volcanic plume over the equator near the Philippines and a large polar stratospheric cloud above Antarctica. Scientists hope to use data from CALIPSO to construct three-dimensional models of the atmosphere that will improve our ability to predict future climate change, understand the role of clouds and aerosols in weather, and study how long-range transport of pollutants affects air quality.
Following launch, CloudSat and CALIPSO joined an orbital formation known as the “A-Train.” The constellation currently includes Aqua, Aura, and PARASOL, delivering a combined set of measurements of the Earth’s environment, with OCO still to follow. The mission is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program, which fosters innovative, low-cost Earth-observation missions designed to study the Earth as a global environmental system.
Ball Aerospace is celebrating its 50th year in business in 2006. The company began building pointing controls for military rockets in 1956, and later won a contract to build one of NASA’s first spacecraft, the Orbiting Solar Observatory. Over the years, the company has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific ‘firsts’ and now acts as a technology innovator in important national missions.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which develops sensors, spacecraft, systems and components for government and commercial customers. Ball reported 2005 sales of $5.8 billion and the company employs 15,600 people worldwide.
This news release contains "forward-looking" statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Key risks and uncertainties are summarized in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in Exhibit 99.2 in our Form 10-K. These filings are available at our Web site and at www.sec.gov. Factors that might affect our packaging segments include fluctuation in consumer and customer demand and preferences; availability and cost of raw materials, including recent significant increases in resin, steel, aluminum and energy costs, and the ability to pass such increases on to customers; competitive packaging availability, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; fruit, vegetable and fishing yields; industry productive capacity and competitive activity; failure to achieve anticipated productivity improvements or production cost reductions, including those associated with our beverage can end project; the German mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or loss of a major customer or supplier; changes in foreign exchange rates, tax rates and activities of foreign subsidiaries; and the effect of LIFO accounting. Factors that might affect our aerospace segment include: funding, authorization, availability and returns of government contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts. Factors that might affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; integration of recently acquired businesses; regulatory action or laws including tax, environmental and workplace safety; governmental investigations; technological developments and innovations; goodwill impairment; antitrust, patent and other litigation; strikes; labor cost changes; rates of return projected and earned on assets of the company's defined benefit retirement plans; changes to the company's pension plans; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.