Featured Missions & Projects - Earth Sciences Division (610)

Landsat 9

Landsat 9, a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey satellite mission, launched on September 27, 2021, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and will extend the Earth-observing program’s record of land images to half a century.

The Landsat program has provided accurate measurements of Earth’s land cover since 1972. With data from Landsat satellites, ecologists have tracked deforestation in South America, water managers have monitored irrigation of farmland in the American West, and researchers have watched the growth of cities worldwide. With the help of the program’s open archive, firefighters have assessed the severity of wildfires and scientists have mapped the retreat of mountain glaciers.
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  • - Thermal Infrared Sensor 2


Aqua (Latin for water) is a NASA satellite mission designed to collect information about Earth's water cycle and other aspects of the Earth system. Aqua's six instruments collect a variety of global data on ocean evaporation, atmospheric water vapor, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables that Aqua measures include radiative energy fluxes; aerosols; vegetation cover on the land; phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans; and air, land, and water temperatures. Aqua was launched on May 4, 2002.
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Aura (Latin for breeze) was launched July 15, 2004. Aura is part of the Earth Science Projects Division, a program dedicated to monitoring the complex interactions that affect the globe using NASA satellites and data systems. Aura's four instruments study the atmosphere's chemistry and dynamics. The satellite's measurements will enable scientists to investigate questions about ozone trends, air quality changes, and their linkage to climate change. Aura's measurements will provide accurate data for predictive models and provide useful information for local and national agency decision support systems.
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How is Earth changing and what are the consequences for life on Earth? In December 1999, NASA launched the Terra satellite as the flagship mission of the Earth Observing System to answer these questions.

Terra carries five instruments that observe Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land, snow and ice, and energy budget. Taken together, these observations provide unique insight into how the Earth system works and how it is changing. Terra observations reveal humanity’s impact on the planet and provide crucial data about natural hazards like fire and volcanoes.

Terra is an international mission carrying instruments from the United States, Japan, and Canada.
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ICESat 2: Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2)

The Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, measures the height of a changing Earth, one laser pulse at a time, 10,000 laser pulses a second. Launched September 15, 2018, ICESat-2 carries a photon-counting laser altimeter that allows scientists to measure the elevation of ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and more - all in unprecedented detail.
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Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)

The GPM mission is one of the next generation of satellite-based Earth science missions that study global precipitation (rain, snow, ice). GPM Constellation is a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other international partners. Building upon the success of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), it initiates the measurement of global precipitation, a key climate factor. Its science objectives are: to improve ongoing efforts to predict climate by providing near-global measurement of precipitation, its distribution, and physical processes; to improve the accuracy of weather and precipitation forecasts through more accurate measurement of rain rates and latent heating; and to provide more frequent and complete sampling of the Earth's precipitation. GPM was launched February 27, 2014.
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Soil Moisture Active-Passive Mission (SMAP)

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission is an orbiting observatory that measures the amount of water in the surface soil everywhere on Earth. It was launched in January 2015 and started operation in April 2015. The SMAP radiometer has been operating flawlessly. The radar instrument, ceasing operation in early 2015 due to failure of radar power supply, collected close to 3 months of science data. The prime mission phase of three years was completed in 2018, and since then SMAP has been in extended operation phase.
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Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS)

The Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) was an attached payload for the International Space Station (ISS) that measured the location, composition and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in the atmosphere. Designed to operate at least six months, CATS had a successful 33-month mission and ceased operations in October 2017.
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Landsat 8

Launched on February 11, 2013, Landsat 8 (formerly the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, LDCM) is collecting valuable data and imagery used in agriculture, education, business, science, and government.

The Landsat Program provides repetitive acquisition of high resolution multispectral data of the Earth’s surface on a global basis. The data from Landsat spacecraft constitute the longest record of the Earth’s continental surfaces as seen from space. It is a record unmatched in quality, detail, coverage, and value.
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Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Science Center (GES DISC)

We are one of eight NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) DAACs that offer Earth science data, information, and services to research scientists, applications scientists, applications users, and students. The GES DISC is the home (archive) of Precipitation, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics, and information, as well as data and information from other related disciplines. The GES DISC is located at Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland.

MODIS Adaptive Processing System (MODAPS)

The MODIS Adaptive Processing System (MODAPS) processes the MODIS and VIIRS instrument data and generates all levels of standard data products for use in climate change study and research applications, and near real time products for use in near real time applications such as numerical weather and climate prediction, forecasting and monitoring natural hazards, agriculture, air quality and disaster relief.

Ocean Color Web

Information and access to the complete suite of NASA ocean color data products

Precipitation Processing System (PPS)

The Precipitation Processing System (PPS) evolved from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Science Data and Information System (TSDIS). The purpose of the PPS is to process, analyze and archive data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, partner satellites and the TRMM mission. All GPM, TRMM and Partner public data products are available to the science community and the general public.

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