The EarthCARE, Earth Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, is a joint European-Japanese mission (ESA/JAXA/NICT) which has been defined with the objective of improving the understanding of cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions so as to include them correctly and reliably in climate and numerical weather prediction models. The EarthCARE Mission has been approved for implementation as ESA's third Earth Explorer Core Mission. It is currently in its Detailed Design Phase (phase C/D) with a launch scheduled for 2018 . This paper presents the EarthCARE programmatic status, the current instrument design and mission performance. The mission end-to-end simulator (E3SIM) and data processing up to level 2 (geophysical products) and related science activities will be discussed. The E3SIM supports end-to-end simulations from a scene definition to synergistic level 2 products. Level 2 retrieval algorithms can be tested in the full chain (provision of input data, algorithm performance tests by comparison of outputs with known inputs) by using a single framework with well-defined interfaces helping to harmonise algorithm developments.
The Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) mission aims at improving the representation and
understanding of the Earth's radiative balance in climate and numerical weather forecast models by acquiring
vertical profiles of clouds - including vertical motion within clouds - and aerosols, as well as measuring the broadband
radiances at the top of the atmosphere for flux estimates in relation of the observed clouds and aerosols fields.
The EarthCARE payload comprises an High Spectral Resolution (HSR) Lidar (ATLID) operating at 355 nm and
equipped with a high-spectral resolution (HSR) receiver and the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR), a highly sensitive
94GHz cloud radar with Doppler capability. A Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI) supporting the active instruments
consists of a push-broom imager with 7 channels in the visible, near infrared, short-wave infrared and thermal
infrared. Finally, a Broad-Band Radiometer (BBR) measures the outgoing top-of-atmosphere radiances in a short
wave channel and a total wave channel, from which the long wave contribution can be deduced.
The EarthCARE end-to-end Simulator (ECSIM) encompasses the full EarthCARE observation chain from scene
definition to single-instrument and synergistically derived multi-instrument Level 2 products. Level 2 retrieval
algorithms can be tested in the full chain (provision of input data, algorithm performance tests by comparison of
outputs with known inputs) by using a single framework with well-defined interfaces helping to harmonise
The CPR is developed and procured by JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NiCT (National
Institute of Information and Communications Technology) and will be embarked as an integral part of the
EarthCARE satellite in the context of the ESA/JAXA cooperation for EarthCARE.
In 2013 an important ESA Core Explorer Mission, EarthCARE is scheduled to be launched. EarthCARE,
(the Earth, Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer) will comprise two active (a cloud-profiling radar (CPR)
and an high spectral resolution atmospheric lidar (ATLID)) and two passive (a Multi-spectral imager (MSI)
and a Broad-Band Radiometer (BBR)) instruments. With these, EarthCARE will enable cloud and aerosol
properties retrievals consistent with a Top-of-Atmospheric (TOA) flux accuracy of 10 Wm-2. This will be
achieved by simultaneously probing the atmosphere vertically with the active instruments in synergy with the
In order to facilitate and optimize algorithm development and to quantify the effect of different instrument
configurations on the mission performance a simulator for EarthCARE (ECSIM) has been developed. ECSIM
relies strongly upon a previous prototype developed by ESA/KNMI where a combination of forward and retrieval
models (full End-to-End capabilities) have been included. In order to make this tool more useful within the
scientific and engineering communities, the prototype simulator has been embedded into a completely reorganized
architecture intended to improve a number of aspects:
*Complex algorithms have been enclosed within logical entities: models.
*Models are connected in a logical sequence with well-defined interfaces.
*Users can customize almost every mode's parameter values using configuration XML files.
*Model outputs are well documented and stored in easy to access NetCDF files.
*Complex simulations can be built up with a few mouse clicks.
*Users can run lengthy simulations automatically iterating through different parameter values.
*ECSIM can intercept and classify information and error messages from the simulations.
*A database is maintained with all the information generated by the system.
*It is possible to add third-party algorithms or tools to convert, analyze and visualize data extracted from generated products.