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Terra · Aqua · Aura
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PARASOL is short for Polarization & Anisotropy of Reflectances for Atmospheric Sciences coupled with Observations from a Lidar. It is a project of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
PARASOL records observations of the aerosols and clouds in the atmosphere for a better understanding of the Earth's climate. The satellite's radiometer studies the atmosphere by measuring the direction and polarization of light reflected by clouds and aerosols in our planet's atmosphere.
PARASOL was launched aboard an Ariane 5 on December 18, 2004, from the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch complex at Guiana Space Center at Kourou, French Guiana.
It is part of so-called A-Train – a flotilla composed of the Aqua, Aura, CloudSat, PARASOL and CALIPSO satellites flying in formation in low polar orbits 438 miles above Earth at an inclination of 98 degrees. Together, their overlapping science instruments give a comprehensive picture of Earth weather and climate.
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