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Ball Aerospace's CALIPSO Lidar Passes One Billionth Milestone
February 13, 2008
A Ball Aerospace technician inspects the CALIPSO lidar prior to the 2006 mission launch.
BOULDER, Colo., – Feb. 13, 2008 – 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. CALIOP is the longest lasting, most powerful lidar on orbit.
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.
In 2007, the Ball Aerospace CALIPSO team received a NASA Group Achievement Award for its significant contributions to the mission. CALIPSO was launched on April 28, 2006, with the cloud profiling radar mission CloudSat. CALIPSO and CloudSat fly in formation with three other satellites in the A-train constellation to enable an even greater understanding of our climate system from the broad array of sensors on these other spacecraft.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more than 50 years, Ball Aerospace has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific ‘firsts’ and acts as a technology innovator for the aerospace market.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 15,500 people worldwide and reported 2007 sales of $7.4 billion.
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