Featured Missions & Projects - Earth Sciences Division (610)


Aqua (Latin for water) is a NASA satellite mission designed to collect information about Earth's water cycle. 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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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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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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Landsat 8

Launched on February 11, 2013, Landsat 8 (formerly the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, LDCM) is the most recently launched Landsat satellite. It 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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ICESat 2: Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2)

The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission is the second generation laser altimeter designed for cryospheric science measurements. Unlike its single-beam predecessor, ICESat-2 will split a single laser beam into six beams to enable measurement of elevation as well as surface slope, and uses a high-repetition rate laser to collect data every 70cm along the flight path.
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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.
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Soil Moisture Active-Passive Mission (SMAP)

SMAP will provide global observations of soil moisture and freeze/thaw state, together termed the hydrosphere state. SMAP hydrosphere state measurements will be used to enhance understanding of the processes that link the water, energy and carbon cycles, and to extend the capability of weather and climate prediction models. SMAP data will be used to quantify net carbon flux in boreal landscapes and to develop improved flood and drought prediction capabilities. SMAP launched on January 31, 2015.
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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.
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MODIS Adaptive Processing System/Level 1 and Atmosphere Archive and Distribution System (MODAPS/LAADS)

Provide users of the MODAPS/LAADS with a variety of basic information concerning the MODIS instrument, the MODIS products, and the services available from MODAPS for the acquisition of MODIS products and production codes.

Ocean Color Web

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

Precipitation Processing System/TRMM Science Data and Information System (PPS/TSDIS)

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) has its own unique Precipitation Processing System (PPS) to process information from the satellite. PPS analyzes TRMM rainfall data as well as data from other Precipitation based missions and also provides validation from nearly a dozen TRMM ground radar sites.

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