NASA will launch and deploy the "flagship" to the Earth Observing System series of satellites, part of a precedent setting program designed to provide daily information on the health of the planet. The Terra spacecraft, formerly known as "EOS AM-1," is scheduled for launch Dec. 16, 1999.
Terra begins a new generation of Earth science - one that studies the Earth's land, oceans, air, ice and life as a total global system. Terra will carry a complement of five synergistic state-of-the-art instruments. Researchers now recognize that the Earth - land, oceans, life, and atmosphere - operates as a system - one part impacting the other. EOS will help us to understand how the complex coupled Earth system of air, land, water and life is linked. A series of 10 spacecraft, known as the first EOS series, are scheduled for launch into the next decade.
"After years of anxious anticipation we're extremely excited about this mission," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, associate administrator, NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. "The Terra mission has nearly unlimited potential to improve scientific understanding of global climate change."
A polar-orbiting spacecraft, Terra is scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas-Centaur IIAS expendable launch vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 25-minute launch window opens at 1:33 p.m. EST (10:33 a.m. PST). Separation of the spacecraft from its launch vehicle will occur about 14 minutes after launch.
Animation by Reto Stockli, NASA GSFC