EarthCARE - the ESA-JAXA Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer Mission. Programmatic and Implementation Aspects
Eisinger, Michael; Wehr, Tobias; Lajas, Dulce; Lefebvre, Alain

EarthCARE, the Earth Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, is a joint European-Japanese mission which has been defined with the objective of improving the understanding of cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions so as to include them correctly and reliably in climate and numerical weather prediction models. The EarthCARE Mission has been approved for implementation as ESA's third Earth Explorer Core Mission. It is currently in its Detailed Design Phase (phase C) with launch planned for end 2016.

The scientific objectives of EarthCARE are:

  • The observation of the vertical distributions of atmospheric liquid water and ice on a global scale, their transport by clouds and their radiative impact.
  • The observation of cloud distribution, cloud-precipitation interactions and the characteristics of vertical motions within clouds.
  • The observation of the vertical profiles of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on a global scale, their radiative properties and interaction with clouds.
  • The retrieval of profiles of atmospheric radiative heating and cooling through the combination of the retrieved aerosol and cloud properties.

    The required measurements will be acquired in a synergistic way by the high spectral resolution backscatter cloud/aerosol lidar (ATLID) operating at 355 nm, the 94 GHz Doppler cloud profiling radar (CPR) contributed by JAXA, the multi-channel spectral imager (MSI), and the total-wave and short-wave broad-band radiometer (BBR).

    This paper presents the EarthCARE programmatic status, the current instrument design and mission performance. Furthermore, the mission end-to-end simulator and data processing up to level 2 (geophysical products) and related science activities will be discussed.

    A companion paper by Donovan et al. will present the scientific aspects of the EarthCARE mission in more detail.