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ASKOS (Cape Verde)

ASKOS is a calibration/validation experiment for the European Space Agency’s Aeolus mission. The instrument launched in August 2018 is capable of retrieving valuable profile information on winds, and aerosol and cloud layer optical properties are also retrieved.

The campaign, organized by the National Observatory of Athens, aims to asses the quality of the aerosol and cloud products from Aeolus. ASKOS will take place in June 2021 at Miondelo, Cape Verde, 600 km off the west coast of Africa. The atmosphere above Cape Verde archipelago experiences intense dust events originating from the Saharan desert, and offers optimal condition to test the satellite capability.

The Cyprus Atmospheric Observatory is partnering with the Unmanned Systems Research Laboratory (USRL) to develop new instruments and adapt existing sensors to be integrated on fixed wing drones. For this campaign, USRL is also developing a helium balloon launch system to access mid-layers of the troposphere (around 6km altitude). Moreover, “traditional” flights can be performed up to an altitude of 4km even without this system.

Our drones will be carrying the following: particle impactors for the collection of dust samples (these can be later analysed for aerosol shape and composition under an electron microscope), two optical particle counters (UCASS and POPS) to measure the vertically-resolved particle size-distribution, and a backscatter sonde.