Tropospheric aerosols have potential climate forcing roles through both the direct effect on solar radiation scattered and absorbed and the indirect effect as condensation nuclei for cloud particles. Present capabilities for characterizing the global aerosol climatology are limited by the existing satellite remote sensing measurements, making a quantitative determination of the climate forcing effects of aerosols rather difficult and uncertain. The Earth Observing Scanning Polarimeter (EOSP) instrument under consideration for Earth Observing System (EOS) mission platforms and for a proposed Climsat Earth Probe mission is intended to provide global mapping with multispectral photopolarimetry, which can be exploited for the more pronounced aerosol signature in the polarization of the scattered light as compared to the radiance. We describe the essential features and performance specifications of the EOSP instrument and discuss approaches for retrieving tropospheric aerosol properties from multispectral photopolarimetry.© (1992) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.