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The CATS (Cloud-Aerosol Transport System) is an experimental payload for the International Space Station (ISS), which uses a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system to measure the location, composition and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in the atmosphere. CATS is mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module's Exposed Facility and is used to study the atmospheric constituents that impact global climate. By gaining a better understanding of cloud and aerosol coverage, scientists can create a better model of the Earth's climate feedback processes.

The CATS is a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing instrument designed to provide range-resolved profile measurements of atmospheric aerosols and clouds. The CATS instrument uses a high repetition rate laser operating at three wavelengths (1064, 532, and 355 nm) to derive properties of cloud and aerosol layers including: layer height, layer thickness, optical depth, extinction, and depolarization-based discrimination of particle type. The CATS investigation is designed to provide a combination of long-term operational science, in-space technology demonstration, and technology risk reduction for future Earth Science missions; all the while adding to the continuous history of Earth atmospheric observations.

CATS was transported by the Dragon CRS-5 transporter to the ISS in January 2015. CATS is installed on the JEF (JEM-EF) exposed facility of the japanese JEM module to enable nadir pointing of the science package sensors and instrumentation. Once CATS is connected to the JEM-EF, it is activated via the ISS command and data handling system. Mission planning and coordination for CATS is controlled via the NASA TReK system and the Marshall Space Flight Center Payload Operations Integration Center (MSFC POIC). The CATS investigation is designed to operate on the JEM-EF for at least 6 months and a maximum of 3 years.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Earth Science
Operator: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Contractors: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Equipment: LIDAR
Configuration: Attached ISS payload
Propulsion: None
Power: Via ISS
Lifetime: 6 months (minimum), up to 3 years
Mass: < 500 kg
Orbit: 400 km × 400 km, 51.6 (typical)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
CATS N/A 10.01.2015 CC SLC-40 Falcon-9 v1.1 with Dragon CRS-5, Flock-1d' 1, Flock-1d' 2, AESP-14