Clouds and Aerosols Profiling in support of ESA’s sentinel 4 and 5 missions



CAPESA is based on a recent partnership between the National Institute of R&D for Optoelectronics (INOE) and the National Institute for Aerospace Research (INCAS). This partnership was set up one year ago, when the two institutions decided to follow a common objective: advances in atmospheric remote sensing. This was decided so as to combine the INOE's expertise in ground-based remote sensing with INCAS' expertise in airborne platforms and research.

INOE - National Institute of R&D for Optoelectronics

INOE was established in 1996 and is involved in fundamental and applicative research in  optoelectronics, analytical chemistry, and high pressure physics.

The Remote Sensing Department, which is directly involved in this project, has as a long-term mission the strengthening of the research and technological development capacities and setting-up of strategic partnerships with excellent research entities worldwide in order to produce and manage information about the environment according to global observation strategies. The efforts are focused on two main objectives: 1) development and improvement of investigation methods dedicated to environmental assessment and control; 2) experimental and theoretical research on atmospheric compounds' microphysics, radiative forcing, air quality and climatology, emphasizing short-lived species, in the frame of European and global networks.

INOEs group history started in 2001, when the first lidar system was installed in Romania, at our institute. First active remote sensing results were published by INOEs team in 2005 and the first PhD thesis in this field was earned in 2006 by Mrs. Doina Nicolae. Since 2001, the researchers involved in this proposal have been working in more than 26 national projects within the Environment framework, and several international projects: 1 FP6 (EARLINET-ASOS), 3 FP7 (DELICE, DELICAT, ACTRIS), 1 ECO-NET, 1 ACCENT, 1 EUREKA (EUREKA-LAPMI), 3 intergovernmental and 4 bilateral projects.

INOE operates a multiwavelength depolarization Raman lidar which delivers data to EBAS and participate in the Calipso CAL-VAL campaign. It also operates a scanning microwave radiometer, part of MWRnet, for the real time measurement of temperature and humidity profiles, as well as many in situ instruments, such as an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer, an Aerodynamic Particle Sizer, a nephelometer, an optical particle counter, an AERONET integrated sunphotometer, gas analysers, DOAS, etc. All these instruments are used to provide information about the atmospheric composition and properties, either at ground, column or on the vertical. Data is used in a synergistic way to account for the altitude, dynamics, composition and optical properties of the layers, possible source and interaction in its path.

We are member of ERLINET, AERONET, MWRNET and we offer trans-national access to RADO infrastructure as an ACTRIS partner. Up to now, we have published 74 scientific papers in international journals, 32 of them in peer reviews. Our work is devoted to technological improvement of remote sensing instruments and advancing research on air quality and climate change, but we also play a key role in developing remote sensing capacities (instruments and human resources) in our country, by setting-up the Romanian Lidar Network based on a Romanian lidar prototype.

We are the promoter of the Romanian Atmospheric Observatory, a 2.87 mil EUR project finalized this year with the support of Norway Grants.


RADO is a Romanian distributed infrastructure consisting of 5 lidar stations (Magurele, Baneasa, Iasi, Cluj and Timisoara), collecting atmospheric in situ and remote sensing data. INOE owns the supersite in Magurele, and also hosts the data center where all the data is collected and stored.

RADO uses mostly active remote sensing techniques - aerosols and water vapour lidars which profile up to the tropopause, the regional atmosphere, but also in situ monitors  for gases such as O3, CO2, CH4, NOX, H2O,  aerosols (particles, concentration and size distribution) or meteorological parameters (T, P, Radiation, Wind, Humidity, etc.), and also integrated column apparatus such as the sun tracking photometers (aerosols optical depth and water vapour column). This synergy of point monitors - total column and profiles, supplemented by modelling and satellite data gives a unique potential for real atmospheric monitoring and assessment.

Key persons

INCAS - National Institute of Aerospace Research “ELIE CARAFOLI”

INCAS is the leading research establishment in aerospace sciences in Romania, with more than 60 years tradition in aerospace engineering, flow physics and applied aerodynamics, using state-of-the-art technologies and unique infrastructure of national strategic importance. INCAS has been involved in all major national aeronautical projects for civil and military areas, and currently is acting as a major player in EU policy for R&D development under FlightPath 2050 vision and future Horizon 2020 program.

NCAS has experience regarding UAS related to its own and to the national research projects for small and medium aircraft. Research areas include control systems with delays, flight simulations with virtual reality -to state dynamic behavior of controlled flight, flight control laws considering mission constraints, design analysis for sensors integration into the flight management system and fault tolerant aircraft.

INCAS is a member of EREA, ACARE offering trans-national access to infrastructure. INCAS team has previous experience: FP6 (Enabling Grids for e-Science, South-Eastern European Grid-enabled e-Infrastructure Development, Unsteady Effects in Shock Wave Induced Separation, Cost Effective Small Aircraft, Aerodynamic Validation of Emission Reducing Technologies) and FP7 (CLEAN SKY JU (CSJU-GAM-GRA-2008-001) Green Regional Aircraft ITD, CLEAN SKY JU (CSJU-GAMSFWA-2008-001) Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft - Integrated Technology Demonstrator, SW/INSL11.022/007/0669/CC/ 1/090709/FAB–DMTI Alenia SIA S.p.A., METEO Preventing desertification in Pecica Area of Mures Basin of Romania). All Romanian major projects in aeronautics were developed in INCAS (e.g. IAR-93, IAR-99, IAR-705/ 701, ECO 100), and also INCAS was partner in international aircraft developments (e.g. BAC 1-11/ROMBAC).

Currently INCAS is the leading design authority for AeroTAXI, sub-commuter scale CS-23 aircraft (12 pax.), IARXT I (derived from IAR-99), for a program regarding U(C)AS, intended for surveillance and basic aerial research and for development of the 3D flight simulator for FQ and critical flight phases analysis.

The interdisciplinary team ATMOSLAB itself is a mix of specialists qualified in various scientific or technical areas which implies a strong interdisciplinary coordination: theoretical physics (theoretical approach of the physical phenomena), optoelectronics (plasma, laser, spectroscopy, photonics), atmospheric physics (cloud aerosol interaction, precipitations, climate change), environmental physics (air pollution, air quality, ice forming), aeronautical engineering, electronic engineering, computational fluid dynamics, data acquisition, data processing, 3D reconstruction and mapping.


ATMOSLAB is an airborne research platform operated by INCAS. In fact, it includes a fully operational airborne laboratory, a ground mobile laboratory and a parallel computing system. ATMOSLAB is equipped with an airborne laser scanning system for topography, cloud aerosol and precipitation spectrometer and data handling systems.


The airborne laboratory is based on a twin engine turboprop aircraft with an operational range of 2000 km and a maximum operating altitude of 9000 m. It is equipped with a cloud, aerosol and precipitation spectrometer (CAPS) and a full wavelength topographic lidar. Alternatively, mission dependant, a SPEC Hawkeye cloud particle and precipitation probe can be installed on the aircraft in lieu of the topographic lidar.

Key persons


The setup of RADO (Romanian Atmospheric 3D research Observatory) with its ground based remote sensing network of observational sites can be regarded as a first step in the coverage the whole of the region. Simultaneously the foundation of ATMOSLAB approached the coverage of the scientific atmospheric observations within the same region in a different mode as it relies on an airborne research platform.

The formation of the consortium led to the integrated research system which covers atmospheric composition and elements from the molecular scale, obtained through the lidar systems, to cloud particles measured by the airborne platform. Also the full coverage of the region is attained in the aerosol field of research as ground based observations from fixed lidar sites are bridged with the capabilities of the airborne platform.

Further, common programmes and strategies link the instrumentation and procedures of the two partners so as to address complex atmospheric research projects as well as targeted applications such as aviation safety, high resolution 3D topographical mapping, environment assessment and hazard characterisation. The two partners are involved in various international networks, panels and committees: