earth online
  • News
  • EarthCARE pre-launch science w...

EarthCARE pre-launch science workshop a success

19 Dec 2023

Held between 13 and 17 November 2023, in ESA’s Earth Observation facility in Frascati, Italy, the ESA-JAXA pre-launch EarthCARE science and validation workshop brought together nearly 250 participants, representing a vibrant worldwide scientific community that is eagerly awaiting the mission’s launch.

Attendees of the EarthCARE science workshop
Attendees of the EarthCARE science workshop

As the first in-person EarthCARE gathering since 2018, the workshop highlighted how the mission is coming at a critical time in the development of global climate models going towards a kilometre scale resolution, by providing an important contribution to our improved understanding of cloud convection and its role in Earth’s radiation budget.

Highlights of the workshop included discussions on the opportunity of using EarthCARE’s dataset to train cutting-edge machine learning cloud parameterisations, and how to exploit the mission’s novel Doppler radar capability for improved microphysical classifications. Also featured were topics such as the potential role of EarthCARE data in numerical weather modelling and how to ensure a long-term, climate relevant dataset in synergy with past missions (CALIPSO/CloudSat, Aeolus) and future ones (AOS, Aeolus-2), clearly identifying the need of EarthCARE’s algorithms being applied to heritage mission data.

But besides the many expected technical successes of the mission, the workshop was a great opportunity to foster international collaboration in preparation of the scientific exploitation of EarthCARE. A joint venture between ESA and JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), the strong bond between the multi-national mission and science teams was further cultivated and intensified at the workshop, hosting very productive meetings for commissioning and mission exploitation phase preparation.

Attendees represented the worldwide scientific community, including those associated with the Chinese Aerosol and Carbon Detection Lidar (ACDL) and the Atmosphere Observatory System (AOS) missions, as well as a large team representing ESA’s Japanese collaboration.

Attendees of the EarthCARE science workshop
EarthCARE: to understand how clouds and aerosols affect Earth's radiation balance

EarthCARE was recently tested in ESTEC’s Test Centre, to check every aspect of its readiness for launch and operation in the space environment, and it has now been shipped to Airbus, in Germany, for the last round of checks, which include testing for the transmitted shock when separating from the rocket’s adapter ring. Upon completion of final tests, the satellite will be shipped to the launch site in Vandenberg, California (USA), early next year.

Expected to be launched in May 2024, EarthCARE is the largest and most complex Earth Explorer to date. It will advance our understanding of the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth's surface.

Philip Stier, Professor of Atmospheric Physics & Head of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics at the University of Oxford, states, "EarthCARE may have been delayed a little… but could not be more timely!"


A special thanks to all ESRIN teams involved in organising, setting up, catering, taking care of all facilities, enabling visits to the Phi-Experience and handling all unexpected issues in a very efficient way—many participants gave very positive feedback, both on venue and programme.