C3IEL PicC3IELCluster Climate and Cloud Imaging of Evolution and Lightning, is a bi-national France-Israel satellite mission, led by CNES and ISA, supported by both French and Israeli governmental funds, and to be launched in 2024.

Operation is planned for at least two years. The main goals of the mission are to realize the unique set of instrumentation capabilities for measuring cloud updrafts (Clouds), detecting the distribution of Water Vapor (WV) in the Region-of-Interest, and tracking the electrification of clouds (Zeus). These combined capabilities take advantage of the unique synergy between the instruments and will yield first order insight of processes needed to understand the energetic balance and circulation in our climate system. This research mission will serve as a demonstrator showing the way of increasing the skill in both weather and climate prediction by future operational satellites.

C3IEL mission is an interdisciplinary, day and night, clear and cloudy skies observation and measurement system, based on three distributed multi instrumental nanosatellites. The system includes a train of two (or three) nanosatellites, designed and built on the CubeSat standard. These 6U nanosatellites carry the payloads. During the mission, the nanosatellites will operate synchronously as a concerted distributed instrumentation system and perform identical types of measurements while pointing at the same ground pixel.

The goals of the mission are:

  • To quantify – for the first time – the competing roles of cloud updrafts aerosols on clouds’ radiative effects and their influence on climate.
  • To document the 3-dimensional structure of Water Vapor distribution at the vicinity of clouds and the interactions with cloud dynamic evolution.
  • To observe and map the relationships and synergy of lightning with convective clouds cloud updrafts during thunderstorms, with the synchronized instrumentation of clouds and lightning.

The resulting scientific products will be significantly better in understanding the leverage clouds have on weather, thunderstorms and climate, thus leading to improved forecasts and significant reduction in uncertainties of manmade impacts in comprehending climate changes.

The nanosatellites of C3IEL system will be engaged in the scientific clouds experiment, i.e. in stereoscopic imaging of cloud tops with VIS cameras, to study the evolution of convective cloud updrafts, tracking their evolution with time. The novelty of a distributed instrumentation set results in a synergic picture of the observed phenomena of clouds properties, i.e., cloud evolution and electrification processes and their interactions with the ambient 3-diemsional distribution of water vapor.