ASKOS (Cape Verde)

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

The experiment, organize by the National Observatory of Athens, aims to asses the quality of the aerosol and cloud products from Aeolus. ASKOS will take place at Cape Verde, 600 km off the west coast of Africa, between June and July 2020. 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. USRL has developed a helium balloon launch system to access mid-layers of the troposphere (around 6km altitude). This is a strong advantage over the usual maximum altitude of 2.5km. It also means weight usually dedicated to batteries can be freed for instrumentation.

CAO and USRL drones will be carrying giant particle impactors and a filter samplers for later analyse of aerosols’ shape and composition under electron microscope; an electricity sensor to measure the electric field across the layers of the atmosphere and the potential effect on particles aligning with such fields; and a UCAS optical particle counter to measure PM size fraction concentrations.

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