Results for: Remote Sensing

Landsat 8 Turns 5

The Landsat series of satellites have been chronicling changes on Earth’s surface for 46 years. In the past five years, Landsat 8 has brought us an unparalleled look at the beauty and dynamism of our planet. Read more

Antarctica from Above: Flying for Science, Finding Beauty

Photographs from the 2017 Operation IceBridge field campaign show the many forms of land and sea ice around the frozen (and melting) southern continent. Read more

The Rise and Fall of Africa’s Great Lake: Scientists Try to Understand the Fluctuations of Lake Chad

More than 30 million people in Africa depend on Lake Chad for fresh water. But satellite and ground-based data show that the once-great lake now spans less than a tenth of the area it covered in the 1960s. Read more

Peering through the Sands of Time: Searching for the Origins of Space Archaeology

In searching for lost cities and ancient travel routes, an unlikely band of scientists and explorers helped develop a new set of tools for archaeology. Read more

Earth at Night

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. Read more

EO-1: 17 Images from 17 Years

Since 2000, Earth Observing-1 has provided stunning views of our planet in its beauty and fury, while advancing satellite technology and imaging. The satellite is being turned off, but its legacy lives on. Read more

World of Change: Sprawling Shanghai

If you could go back in time to the 1980s, you would find a city that is drastically different than today’s Shanghai. Read more

El Niño: Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather

El Niño is one of the most important weather-producing phenomena on Earth. The changing ocean conditions disrupt weather patterns and marine life in the Pacific and around the world. Satellites are unraveling the many traits of this wild child of weather. Read more

A Celebration of Clouds: From Space, Earth Has an Elegant Atmosphere

Clouds can be a nuisance when scientists are trying to observe features on Earth's surface. But at other times, clouds are exactly what they want to see. These images highlight some of the more unusual and beautiful clouds observed in recent years from space. Read more

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Still Cloudy, With a Chance of Clearing

It is the largest estuary in the United States and third largest in the world. Once sculpted and changed by ice, water, and powerful geologic forces over tens of millions of years, today's Bay is shaped by human forces as well. Read more

Sea Ice

Polar sea ice grows and shrinks dramatically each year, driven by seasonal cycles. Habitat for wildlife and harbinger of changing climate, sea ice offers scientists important clues about the state of our planet. Read more

National Parks from Space

The U.S. National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, commemorating 100 years of stewardship of America’s natural and historic treasures. Many of those monuments, scenic rivers, parks, and historic sites are visible from space—where the views are just as compelling. Read more

World of Change: Ice Loss in Glacier National Park

Shrinking since at least the early 1900s, the ice cover in Glacier National Park is expected to keep declining until only insignificant lumps remain. These images show changes to the park's ice and surrounding landscape since 1984. Read more

Natural Beauty at Risk: Preparing for Climate Change in National Parks

Many National Parks were created to protect forests and ecosystems from development and fragmentation. But changes in temperature, rainfall, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide could eventually do as much to remake forests as humans did with saws and fires and bulldozers. Read more

Methane Matters

The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been fluctuating, mostly rising. The question is why. Scientists wonder if they have the right monitoring systems in place to answer that question adequately. Read more

Notes from the Field: Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE)

The Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) is a multi-year field campaign in Alaska and western Canada, involving dozens of research teams. ABoVE researchers are investigating the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems (such as permafrost, forests, and coastlines) and society to this changing environment. Read more

Reading the ABCs from Space

Some people see animals or omens in the clouds and landscape. We see letters. Read more

Notes from the Field: Nansen Ice Shelf, Antarctica

NASA scientists are collaborating with the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) to measure changes in the flow of the Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica. These measurements will then be used to model the physical properties of the ice. Read more

Notes from the Field: Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX)

In the winter of 2015-16, scientists will be working to validate rain and snow measurements from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of satellites by monitoring storm systems as they approach and traverse the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Read more

A Little Bit of Water, A Lot of Impact

Compared to the amount of water stored in the oceans, ice caps, and lakes, the amount in the soil is minuscule. But that small volume has great significance for weather and climate. Read more

Notes from the Field: North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES)

Scientists are embarking on a five year air and sea investigation to understand key processes that control the ocean system, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds, and their implications for climate. Read more

CYGNSS: Gearing Up to Look Down on Hurricanes

When launched in 2016, the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will be a constellation of eight micro-satellites that will make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in order to better understand the lifecycle of tropical cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes. Read more

Big Data Helps Scientists Dig Deeper

Empowered by free access to the Landsat data archive, earth scientists are using new computing tools to ask questions that were impossible to answer a decade ago. From week-to-week fluctuations in forests to year-to-year changes in land cover, researchers can now examine our planet in much greater detail. Read more

Landsat Goes Over the Top: A Long View of the Arctic

Hitch a ride with Landsat 8 as it takes flight over the North Pole on the solstice. Read more

Notes from the Field: Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Launch

Knowledge of soil moisture is important for applications such as weather forecasting, crop monitoring, and flood prediction. For a global picture of this key parameter, NASA is launching the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. Read more

Finding Floating Forests

Giant kelp forests are among Earth’s most productive habitats, but they are ephemeral. Researchers are using Landsat and a host of online friends to figure out where the forests are growing and declining. Read more

Notes from the Field: Operation IceBridge: Antarctic 2014

In October and November 2014, NASA's Operation IceBridge will fly its sixth Antarctic field campaign. This year’s campaign returns to Chile, giving researchers a view of how land and sea ice has changed in the past two years around West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. Read more

Notes from the Field: Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) 2014

Follow along on the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) campaign. HS3 is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Read more

An Aura of Success

On the 10th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Aura spacecraft, we offer 10 examples of how the satellite has changed our view of dust, pollution, aerosols, and ozone in our atmosphere. Read more

Notes from the Field: Ship-Aircraft Bio-Optical Research (SABOR)

In the summer of 2014, scientists embarked on ship and aircraft expeditions between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda in order to improve NASA's view of the oceans. Read more

Notes from the Field: NASA in Alaska 2014

Planes, balloons, and boots on the ground are just some of the approaches NASA scientists are taking this summer and fall in Alaska to investigate the region's changing landscapes, from forests and fire to ice and solar radiation. Read more

A Clearer View of Hazy Skies

Industrialization has brought incredible societal advances and difficult pollution problems. From space, we can see skies clearing in some regions and darkening in others. The thin blue line of our atmosphere is still quite vulnerable. Read more

Notes from the Field: South Pacific Bio-optics Cruise 2014

Field data necessary for validating ocean color satellite data are sparse in many regions of the ocean. NASA scientists will travel over much of the South Pacific between March and May 2014 to fill in this data gap. Read more

Why is that Forest Red and That Cloud Blue?

Are you distracted by unusual colors in satellite images? They are not photographs, and understanding the difference between them is the key to unlocking the power of false-color images. Read more

Landsat 8 Delivering On Its Promises

It was built to extend a four-decade record of Earth observations. One year after launch, Landsat 8 has deepened the archives and our insights — not just of the land, but of the sea and sky. Here are some of our favorite images to date. Read more

The Eight-Thousanders

There is no greater challenge for mountain climbers than reaching the summit of the world’s 14 tallest peaks. Here is what they look like from space. Read more

How to Interpret a Satellite Image: Five Tips and Strategies

What do you do when presented with a new satellite image? Here's what the Earth Observatory team does to understand the view. Read more

Notes from the Field: GPM in Japan, the Road to Launch

The joint NASA and JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement mission's Core Observatory has completed testing and is entering its final phase before launch in early 2014. The first step: traveling ~7300 miles to its launch site on Tanegashima Island, Japan. Read more

Holidays from the Heights

Bask in the warm light of your computer screen and sample the festive sights of the season from the perspective of satellites and space station residents. Read more

Come Fly With the Newest Landsat

Satellites don't take videos; they capture still images. But in a new mosaic, 56 stills have been stitched together to present a seamless video flyover of what LDCM saw one day in April 2013. Read more

Managing Fire in Etosha National Park

Prescribed fires should prevent blazes from raging out of control in one of Namibia’s most prized wildlife preserves. Read more

Out of the Blue and Into the Black

The night is nowhere near as dark as most of us think. In fact, the Earth is never really dark; it twinkles with lights from humans and nature. Read more

Hunting Fossils from Afar

Paleontologists use Landsat images and an artificial intelligence to identify sites likely to yield fossils. Read more

The Gravity of Water

Scientists are using novel measurements of gravity to gather indispensable information about Earth’s water supplies. The GRACE mission can see water flowing underground. Read more

Greatest Hits from Landsat

Landsat 1 was launched in July 1972, starting the longest continuous observation of Earth's land surfaces from space. Here are some of the memorable scientific and societal contributions from the 40-year-old program. Read more

Landsat Looks and Sees

The world’s longest-running Earth-observing satellite program has collected more than three million images, showing two generations of planetary evolution and of human imprints on Earth. The Landsat archives tell an unparalleled story of our land surfaces. Read more

Looking Back on Ten Years of Aqua

Launched on May 4, 2002, NASA's Aqua satellite and its six instruments have provided a decade's worth of unprecedented views of our planet. Here are a few of our favorites. Read more

Where Is the Hottest Place on Earth?

Satellite research shows that the world’s hottest spot changes, though the conditions don’t. Think dry, rocky, and dark-colored lands...and cities. Read more

Top 11 from 2011

The most-visited images published in the Earth Observatory from 2011 are featured in this gallery. Read more

Seeing Forests for the Trees and the Carbon: Mapping the World’s Forests in Three Dimensions

Earth has a carbon problem, and some think trees are the answer. Would it help to plant more? To cut down fewer? Does it matter where? Scientists are working to get a better inventory of the carbon stored in trees. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: Pine Island Glacier 2011

An international team of researchers are traveling to one of Antarctica's most active, remote and harsh spots to determine how changes in the waters circulating under an active ice sheet are causing a glacier to accelerate and drain into the sea. Read more

IceBridge: Building a Record of Earth’s Changing Ice, One Flight at a Time

NASA is sending a fleet of airplanes to the ends of the Earth for the next several years to figure out how and why polar ice is changing. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: Eco3D: Exploring the Third Dimension of Forest Carbon

From August through September, NASA's P-3 research aircraft will be flying from Quebec to Florida to measure the three-dimensional structure and carbon storage capacity of North American forests. Read more

Every Flight is a Mission to Planet Earth

Observing Earth from space is one of the NASA’s longest-standing science experiments. This photo essay pays homage to the unique view of Earth that the space shuttle has delivered for 30 years. Read more

Earth Matters Blog

Earth is an amazing planet, and the one that matters most to us. Let's have a conversation about it. Read more

Natural Disasters and NASA - What Is The Agency’s Role? An Interview with Michael Goodman

Working with basic researchers, engineers, and applied scientists--and a dozen satellite sensors--Michael Goodman helps assemble and coordinate NASA’s response to natural disasters and hazards. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: MABEL, Spring 2011

Flying on a high-altitude aircraft on the brink of space, the MABEL instrument is helping scientists to simulate measurements from NASA's next ice-observing satellite, ICESat-2. Read more

Earth Observing-1: Ten Years of Innovation

Scheduled to fly for a year, designed to last a year and a half, EO-1 celebrated its tenth anniversary on November 21, 2010. During its decade in space, the satellite has accomplished far more than anyone dreamed. Read more

Russian Firestorm: Finding a Fire Cloud from Space

NASA satellites help confirm that a strong firestorm fueled fires in western Russia and drew smoke high into the atmosphere in late July 2010. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: The Western Siberia Expedition 2010

An international team of scientists working in Siberia report on their expedition to collect data related to the Earth's carbon budget and to document the effects of climate change in the region. Read more

World of Change: Devastation and Recovery at Mt. St. Helens

The devastation of the May 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens and the gradual recovery of the surrounding landscape is documented in this series of satellite images from 1979—2015. Read more

Notes from the Field blog: Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac)

Join us for the next six weeks as scientists share their experiences from the first science mission on the Global Hawk, NASA's new unmanned aircraft. Read more

NASA’s Newest Map of the World

Why did it take nearly three decades for scientists to create the first global portraits of Earth from NASA's Landsat missions? Read more

Perspectives: Why EOS Matters, 10 years later

Nearly a decade ago, ecologist Steve Running described how NASA’s Earth Observing System missions were going to help us answer this crucial question: Is the current human occupancy and activity of planet Earth sustainable? In 2009, he revisited the question, making the case that Earth-observing satellites are more important than ever as humanity begins to deal with a changing climate. Read more

Catalog of Earth Satellite Orbits

Different orbits give satellites different vantage points for viewing Earth. This fact sheet describes the common Earth satellite orbits and some of the challenges of maintaining them. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: North Woods, Maine 2009

NASA's Dr. Jon Ranson is on an expedition in the forests of central Maine to validate recent radar and lidar measurements which will help create more accurate and sensitive sensors to better understand the vegetation of the Earth and to balance the carbon budget. Read more

Earth Observatory 10th Anniversary

April 29, 2009, marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Earth Observatory Website. Read about the history, accomplishments, and goals of this award-winning Website. Read more

American Carbon: Vulcan Project Maps Nation’s Fossil Fuel Emissions in Detail

The Vulcan Project maps when and where Americans burn fossil fuels. Read more

Cities at Night: The View from Space

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station capture nighttime photographs of city lights, spectacular evidence of humanity's existence, our distribution, and our ability to change our environment. Read more

Observing Volcanoes, Satellite Thinks for Itself

Satellite sensor technology automates volcanic observation, providing timely information about the eruption of Nyamuragira Volcano. Read more

Earth’s Temperature Tracker

NASA scientist James Hansen has tracked Earth's temperature for decades, and he is confident the global warming trend of 0.9 degrees Celsius observed since 1880 is mainly the result of human-produced greenhouse gases. Read more

Fire Alarms from Orbit

NASA satellites are playing a key role in an alert system that notifies the South African electric company when potential outage-causing fires come near the power lines. Read more

Remote River Reconnaissance

Elevation data collected from the space shuttle help map Earth's rivers in remote regions. Read more

Mosaic of Antarctica

Researchers use MODIS images to show Antarctica like you've never seen it before. Read more

The Art of Science

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have many tasks, but a consistent favorite is taking photographs of Earth. Read more

Nimbus’ 40th Anniversary

On August 28, 2004, NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Nimbus-1 Earth-observation satellite. Starting in 1964 and for the next twenty years, the Nimbus series of missions was the United States' primary research and development platform for satellite remote-sensing of the Earth. Read more

High Water: Building a Global Flood Atlas

For more than a decade, geologist Bob Brakenridge has been pioneering the use of satellite data for monitoring floods. Read more

Terra Turns Five

In February 2000, NASA's Terra satellite began measuring Earth's vital signs with a combination of accuracy, precision, and resolution the world had never before seen. While the mission is still in the process of fulfilling its main science objectives, Terra's portfolio of achievements to date already marks the mission a resounding success. Read more

Aura: A Mission Dedicated to the Health of Earth’s Atmosphere

On July 15, 2004 at 3:02 a.m., NASA launched the Aura satellite, the third flagship in a series of Earth-observing satellites designed to view Earth as a whole system, observe the net results of complex interactions within the climate system, and understand how the planet is changing in response to natural and human influences. Read more

Mayan Mysteries

Satellite data help scientists understand Mesoamerica's past and point the way toward a brighter future. Read more

A New IDEA in Air Quality Monitoring

NASA satellite data of regional haze allow EPA scientists to expand their focus from local to regional air quality monitoring and forecasting. Read more

Sensing Remote Volcanoes

More than 1,500 potentially active volcanoes dot the Earths landscape, of which approximately 500 are active at any given time. Satellite technology now makes it possible to monitor volcanic activity in even the most isolated corners of the globe. Read more

GRACE Fact Sheet

Launched in March 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment is a five-year mission intended to produce maps of the Earth’s gravity field with unprecedented precision and resolution. Read more

Double Vision

For the first time, scientists can rely on not one, but two satellites to monitor ocean surface topography, or sea level. TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, launched nearly 10 years apart, are now engaged in a tandem mission, creating a spaceborne ocean observatory that provides scientists, climate modelers, and forecasters with nearly global coverage of the world's ocean surface at an unprecedented level of precision. Read more

Measuring Ozone from Space Shuttle Columbia

New remote-sensing technology called limb viewing allows observation of the atmosphere from the side rather than straight down. From that side view the layers of the atmosphere appear like layers in a cake, allowing instruments to see the lower layers of the stratosphere where most of the recently observed ozone change, like the ozone hole, occurs. Read more

How on Earth was this Image Made?

Remotely sensed Earth observations can include everything from sonar measurements used to map the topography of the ocean floor to satellite-based observations of city lights. Combining observations collected by a variety of instruments at different times and places allow scientists to create an otherwise impossible view of the Earth, showing underwater mountain ranges, cloud-free skies, and city lights that are brighter than daylight. Such visualizations are invaluable for interpreting complex data and communicating scientific concepts. Read more

Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) Fact Sheet

Earth scientists will move a step closer to a full understanding of the Sun's energy output with the launch of the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite. SORCE will be equipped with four instruments now being built at the University of Colorado that will measure variations in solar radiation much more accurately than anything now in use and observe some of the spectral properties of solar radiation for the first time. With data from NASA's SORCE mission, researchers should be able to follow how the Sun affects our climate now and in the future. (Original 2001-11-30; updated 2003-01-21) Read more

ICESat Factsheet

The ICESat mission will provide multi-year elevation data needed to determine ice sheet mass balance as well as cloud property information, especially for stratospheric clouds common over polar areas. It will also provide topography and vegetation data around the globe, in addition to the polar-specific coverage over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Read more

Introduction to the LBA

The large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia is an international research effort led by Brazil to investigate how the Amazon functions as a regional and global entity in atmospheric and biogeochemical cycles. Read more

Tracking Clouds

Tune in to the evening weather report on any given day, and you?ll no doubt see satellite images of clouds. For years, experts have used cloud observations to predict the weather, from forecasting extreme weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, to simply telling people whether they need to take an umbrella or sunscreen on their afternoon picnic. Read more

Prospecting from Orbit

With help from the ASTER instrument aboard the NASA's Terra satellite, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have embarked on an ambitious effort to create a worldwide map of well-exposed metal ore deposits. Read more

Dropping in on a Hurricane

By dropping small sensors into hurricanes from above, scientists are acquiring data at high altitudes that will help them better unde rstand the structure and dynamics of hurricanes. Read more

Teaching Old Data New Tricks

Researchers have discovered that scatterometer data could provide important information on a variety of other surfaces, such as forests and ice, which became the basis for global climate change study applications. Read more

CALIPSO: A Global Perspective of Clouds and Aerosols from Space

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite mission helps scientists answer significant questions about climatic processes by providing new information on clouds and aerosols. Read more

Human Spaceflight Factsheet

Astronaut photography of Earth from the first space flights in the 1960s formed the foundation for the remote sensing technologies that followed. Read more


Aqua carries six state-of-the-art instruments to observe the Earth's oceans, atmosphere, land, ice and snow covers, and vegetation, providing high measurement accuracy, spatial detail, and temporal frequency. This comprehensive approach enables scientists to study interactions among the many elements of the Earth system. Read more

NOAA-M Continues Polar-Orbiting Satellite Series

Since the 1960s, NASA has developed polar-orbiting operational environmental satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA-M, the latest NOAA spacecraft, was launched on June 24, 2002. Read more

Domes of Destruction

Imagery from the ASTER satellite instrument helps scientists monitor volcanic domes. Read more

Tais that Bind

Using GIS techniques and Chinese population and socioeconomic data, linguists trace the origin of Tai dialect in Southeast Asia. Read more

Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III) is a fourth-generation satellite instrument for observing the long-term health of the upper atmosphere, including the amounts of ozone, aerosols (suspended particles), and water vapor. Read more

Weather Forecasting Through the Ages

Only fifty years ago, weather forecasting was an art, derived from the inspired interpretation of data from a loose array of land-based observing stations, balloons, and aircraft. Since then it has evolved substantially, based on an array of satellite and other observations and sophisticated computer models simulating the atmosphere and sometimes additional elements of the Earth's climate system. The AIRS/AMSU/HSB combination on board the [soon to be launched] EOS Aqua satellite should further these advances, enabling more accurate predictions over longer periods. Read more

Hantavirus Risk Maps

Satellite and ground truth data help scientists predict the risk of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Read more

Tracking a Volcano: Satellite Observations of Piton de la Fournaise

NASA satellite data from Terra and Landsat provide a unique perspective on the 2002 eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Read more

Research Satellites for Atmospheric Science, 1978-Present

NASA and its affiliated agencies and research institutions developed a series of research satellites that have enabled scientists to test new remote sensing technologies that have advanced scientific understanding of both chemical and physical changes in the atmosphere. Read more

New Light on Ice Motion

MODIS' unprecedented high resolution reveals clues to Antarctic topography and ice history. Read more

Power to the People

Thanks to a team at NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC), engineers and amateur inventors worldwide now have free access to global-scale data on natural renewable energy resources. Private companies are using these data to design, build, and market new technologies for harnessing this energy. The best part is many of these new systems will be marketed at affordable prices in underdeveloped countries for those who need them most. Read more

Well Grounded

A team effort allows scientists to validate and make MODIS data accessible to a wide audience. Read more

Astronaut Photography: Observing Earth from the International Space Station

The Destiny Laboratory aboard the International Space Station includes the best optical quality window ever flown on a human-occupied spacecraft. Through this window, astronauts are photographing the Earth’s surface as part of an early project, called Crew Earth Observations Read more

New Tools for Diplomacy

Remote sensing technology, increasingly crucial to the understanding of Earth's climate and environmental processes, now permits the monitoring of global environmental conditions and the gathering of data that were historically unavailable. Read more


The EOS Data and Information System distributes Earth Science Enterprise data through the Distributed Active Archive Centers, the institutions responsible for archiving and making data products readily available to anyone who wants them. Read more

Earth Observing 1 (EO-1)

In 2000, NASA launched Earth Observing-1 (EO-1). While flying at an altitude of 705-kilometers, EO-1's primary focus is to test advanced instruments, spacecraft systems, and mission concepts in flight. EO-1 will also return scientific data which is used in comparison with other satellite data to ensure the continuity of land-imaging data. Read more

Reaping What We Sow: Mapping the Urbanization of Farmland Using Satellites and City Lights

Tracking urbanization, the conversion of rural landscape to urban habitat, has always been difficult due to the speed at which it progresses. Recently, NASA scientists came across a solution. Using satellite images of city lights at night, they constructed a map of urbanized areas and integrated this map with a soil map prepared by the United Nations. These maps indicate that urban centers may be destroying their best soils and putting future generations at risk. Read more

Bright Lights, Big City

For the past six years, researchers have been looking for ways to measure the effects of urbanization on biological productivity in countries around the world. To assist them with their research, they have created a method of mapping urbanization on a countrywide scale by using satellite images of the light cities generate at night. Read more

Measuring Vegetation (NDVI & EVI)

In an effort to monitor major fluctuations in vegetation and understand how they affect the environment scientist use satellite remote sensors to measure and map the density of green vegetation over the Earth. By carefully measuring the wavelengths and intensity of visible and near-infrared light reflected by the land surface back up into space, scientists use an algorithm called a “Vegetation Index” to quantify the concentrations of green leaf vegetation around the globe. Read more

Watching the Sun

The Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor III will monitor the sun's total radiation output so scientists can better predict the sun's effect on global climate change. Read more

Flying High for Fine Wine

NASA and Robert Mondavi Winery researchers worked together to use airborne remote sensing technology to classify grapevines and produce better wine. Read more

RAMPing Up

International teamwork yields a high-resolution map of Antarctica. Read more

Learning To Fly

Mission managers had to work through some "exciting" episodes during the launch and initial deployment of NASA’s Terra satellite. Read more

Finding Fossils from Space

Satellite imagery helps fossil hunters find dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert. Read more

Space-based Observations of the Earth

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. Read more

Eye on the Sun - Solstice

SOLSTICE, an instrument aboard the UARS satellite, created a standard against which future monitoring of the Sun could be measured. Read more


By measuring the total amount of energy that the sun delivers to the Earth with ACRIMSAT, scientists will be able to build better scientific models of the Earth’s climate system, providing a vital piece of the global climate change puzzle. Read more

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the science and art of identifying, observing, and measuring an object without coming into direct contact with it. This involves the detection and measurement of radiation of different wavelengths reflected or emitted from distant objects or materials, by which they may be identified and categorized. Read more


QuikSCAT provides climatologists, meteorologists and oceanographers with daily, detailed snapshots of the winds swirling above the world’s oceans. Read more

Landsat 7 Fact Sheet

The latest mission in the Landsat series—Landsat 7—continues the flow of global change information to users worldwide. Scientists use Landsat satellites to gather remotely sensed images of the land surface and surrounding coastal regions for global change research, regional environmental change studies and other civil and commercial purposes. Read more

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), is the first mission dedicated to measuring tropical and subtropical rainfall through microwave and visible infrared sensors, and includes the first spaceborne rain radar. Read more

Changing Global Land Surface

Satellite remote sensing enables researchers to consistently monitor distribution and seasonal changes of the world’s vegetation and the exchanges of water and carbon between land vegetation and the atmosphere. These observations will help us understand the rate of change of atmospheric carbon dioxide and its effect on climate. Read more

Terra Spacecraft Fact Sheet

On December 18, 1999, NASA launched a new flagship, the Terra satellite, to begin collecting a new 18-year global data set on which to base future scientific investigations about our complex home planet. Read more

Fire! NASA Demonstrates New Technology for Monitoring Fires From Space

The Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) enables scientists to detect active fires, estimate rates of combustion, and estimate how much smoke, greenhouse gases, and aerosol particles the fires produce Read more