The ‘most expensive’ space mission ever

A seminar held Wednesday focused on what a speaker called “the most interesting” space mission currently in proposal.

Nick Schutgens, a research scientist from the Royal Netherlands Meteorology Institute, spoke at one of two graduate seminars held by the meteorology department.

His presentation, titled “Synergetic Cloud Observation by EarthCARE; A Proposed ESA/NASDA Space Mission,” focused on what Schutgens said was also “considered the most expensive mission.”

The proposed EarthCARE mission would be stocked with equipment, including Doppler Cloud Profiling Radar, a broadband radiometer and a fourier transform spectrometer.

The equipment aids in completing the mission goal, which in Schutgens’ words is to gain information on radiative balance, cloud-precipitation interaction and profiles of water and ice content.

The current status of the mission is in “phase A,” according to Schutgens. Approval of the mission will not be granted until 2004 and the launch will take place sometime between 2008 and 2010.

Compared to other proposed missions, Schutgens claimed EarthCARE is better because it uses improved technology and has Doppler capability.

Schutgens and his team are developing a software simulation package that will incorporate realistic cloud schemes and instrument models. Best of all, Schutgen said, “it will be freeware once released.”

The other seminar held Wednesday was given by Matilde Nicolini and Paola Salio from the University of Buenos Aires.

The second and final graduate seminar will be held on Oct. 1. Consult the program Web site at for more information.

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