Sciences and Exploration Directorate



Flight Project




Launch Date:

December 1999


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.

Key Staff
Artist's concept of Terra in orbit