Satellite images of Earth at night have been a curiosity for the public and a tool of fundamental research for at least 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness.
Whether started by humans (farming, logging, or accidents) or by nature (lightning), fires are always burning somewhere on Earth. These maps show the locations of fires burning around the world each month.
Snow and ice influence climate by reflecting sunlight back into space. When it melts, snow is a source of water for drinking and vegetation; too much snowmelt can lead to floods. These maps show average snow cover by month.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a different part of the world? What would the weather be like? What kinds of animals would you see? Which plants live there? By investigating these questions, you are learning about biomes.
These maps show the average amount of water vapor in a column of atmosphere by month. Water vapor is the key precursor for rain and snow and one of the most important greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
For 20 years, astronauts have been shooting photos of Earth from the space station. Like everything the astronauts do, they are trained for this job. And like everything they do, there is purpose and intention behind it.
From their perch on the space station, astronauts have spent 20 years sharing a story about Earth as they see it from above. Like the directors of a film, those astronaut storytellers have a crew working behind the scenes to help them tell the story. Meet the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit.
From their home on the International Space Station, astronauts have a view unlike anything most of us will ever see. Over 20 years, they have shot millions of photographs of Earth, and it is not just a hobby. It is an important scientific job, and one they need to be trained to do. Learn more about the challenges of watching Earth from above.
These maps depict how much hotter or cooler an ocean basin was compared to the long-term average. Temperature anomalies can indicate changes in ocean circulation or the arrival of patterns like El Niño and La Niña.
Greenness is an important indicator of health for forests, grasslands, and farms. The greenness of a landscape, or vegetation index, depends on the number and type of plants, how leafy they are, and how healthy they are.
A few decades ago, the idea of predicting a disease outbreak via satellite was science fiction. But today, researchers can use environmental data to predict when and where some diseases are likely to spread.