Today, Earth scientists' goals are to not only observe weather patterns around our world, but to determine the causes and effects of climate and environmental change. With increasingly sophisticated satellite remote sensors, we can measure a wide range of geophysical parameters (such as surface temperature, distribution of clouds and aerosol particles, the abundance of trace gases in the atmosphere, or the distribution and types of life on land and in the ocean) with unprecedented accuracy and resolution. Moreover, we can now measure how changing certain aspects of the climate system (such as cloud cover) can have a "ripple effect" through other aspects of the climate system (such as surface temperature, precipitation, the radiation budget). Scientists are feeding these new satellite data, collected throughout the Earth's climate system, into sophisticated new computer models that, ultimately, will enable them to predict climate changes months, years, or even decades before they occur. If we are to become better stewards of our home planetif we are to leave abundant natural resources to our grandchildren and to their grandchildrenthen we must continue monitoring our planet with satellite sensors ever improving our understanding of how the Earth system works.
Parkinson, Claire L., 1997: Earth From AboveUsing Color-Coded Satellite Images to Examine the Global Environment. University Science Books, Sausalito, CA; 175 pages.
Wallace, Lane E., 1999: Dreams, Hopes, RealitiesNASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, The First Forty Years. NASA History Office, Office of Policy and Plans, Washington, D.C., NASA SP-4312; 219 pages.
Space-based Observations of the Earth