SpaceX to Launch ESA’s EarthCARE Satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base - Science Label

SpaceX to Launch ESA’s EarthCARE Satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base


SpaceX is set to launch the European Space Agency's (ESA) EarthCARE satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Scheduled for May 28, 2024, this mission marks a significant collaboration between ESA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT).

EarthCARE Mission Overview

EarthCARE, which stands for Earth Cloud, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, is the sixth mission in ESA's Living Planet Programme. This satellite aims to improve our understanding of cloud and aerosol interactions and their effects on Earth's radiation balance. The mission involves measuring reflected solar radiation and infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and atmosphere, providing critical data for climate research (

Scientific Instruments

EarthCARE is equipped with four advanced instruments designed to work together to deliver comprehensive climate data:

  1. Atmospheric Lidar (ATLID): This instrument uses laser technology to measure cloud and aerosol profiles.
  2. Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR): Developed in collaboration with JAXA, CPR will provide vertical profiles of cloud structures.
  3. Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI): This instrument captures images in various spectral bands to study clouds and aerosols.
  4. Broad-Band Radiometer (BBR): BBR measures the radiation fluxes at the top of the atmosphere, contributing to the study of Earth’s energy budget (

Importance of the Mission

Understanding how clouds and aerosols influence climate is essential for predicting future climate changes. EarthCARE’s comprehensive data will help scientists refine climate models and improve weather forecasts. By studying the interaction between aerosols, clouds, and radiation, the mission will provide insights into processes that affect climate regulation and atmospheric dynamics (

Launch Details

The EarthCARE satellite, weighing approximately 2,350 kg, will be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit, which allows for consistent lighting conditions for observations. The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, known for its reliability and reusability, will carry out the mission. The launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base's Space Launch Complex 4E is scheduled for 22:20 UTC (3:20 p.m. PDT) (

Future Implications

The data collected by EarthCARE will be invaluable for climate researchers and meteorologists. By enhancing our understanding of the Earth's radiation budget and the role of clouds and aerosols, the mission will contribute to global climate monitoring and help policymakers develop informed strategies to combat climate change.


The upcoming launch of EarthCARE represents a major milestone in international cooperation for climate science. As SpaceX prepares for this critical mission, the scientific community eagerly anticipates the wealth of data that EarthCARE will provide, furthering our knowledge of Earth's complex climate system.

For more details about the mission, visit the European Space Agency and SpaceX.

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