Catching the Black Smoke: Visualizing Aerosols with CALIPSO

EarthzineDEVELOP 2015 Summer VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Investigating Impacts of Fire and Landslide Disasters

This is an article from the Summer 2015 VPS. For more VPS articles, click here


A screenshot demonstrating the various functionalities of the VOCAL tool. (In clockwise order) Database dialog, attributes dialog, main window, and toolbar window. The shapes displayed in the main window are for demonstration purposes only. Image Credit: CALIPSO Team

Category:åÊInvestigating Impacts of Fire and Landslide Disasters

Project Team: CALIPSO Cross-Cutting II

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia


Grant Mercer

Nathan Qian


Jeffry Ely (NASA DEVELOP National Program)

Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program)


The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) is a joint mission between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Ìätudes Spatiales (CNES) that analyzes aerosol particles suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers use visualized CALIPSO data to track the global distribution, dispersion, and source of aerosols. However, the current visualization tool for displaying CALIPSO data does not support needed features for tracking aerosols such as selecting areas of data and sharing those selected sections, making it difficult for researchers to track specific airborne objects. Adding these necessary features to the current CALIPSO visualization tool is difficult, as the tool is written in Interactive Data Language (IDL), a proprietary and obscure language, and writing additional features for the tool would require a specialized development team. For the 2015 summer term, our team was focused on the development of the Visualization of CALIPSO (VOCAL) Python program. VOCAL will serve as the successor to the current visualization tool for CALIPSO data. It follows a previous DEVELOP team’s work and implements a number of new features and functionalities to more easily identify the sources of aerosols and their impact on Earth’s climate.

Previous story / Next story