The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer, ASTER, is
an international project: the instrument was supplied by Japan's Ministry of
International Trade and Industry. A joint US/Japan science team developed
algorithms for science data products, and is validating instrument performance.
With its 14 spectral bands, extremely high spatial resolution, and 15 meter
along-track stereo capability, ASTER is the zoom lens of the Terra satellite. The
primary mission goals are to characterize the Earth's surface; and to monitor
dynamic events and processes that influence habitability at human scales.
ASTER's monitoring and mapping capabilities are illustrated by this series of
images of the San Francisco area. The visible and near infrared image reveals suspended sediment in the bays, vegetation health, and details of the urban environment.
Flying over San Francisco,
we see the downtown, and shadows of the large
buildings. Past the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, we cross San Pablo
Bay and enter Suisun Bay. Turning south, we fly over the Berkeley and Oakland
Hills. Large salt evaporation ponds come into view at the south end of San
Francisco Bay. We turn northward, and approach San Francisco Airport. Rather than
landing and ending our flight, we see this is as only the beginning of a 6 year
mission to better understand the habitability of the world on which we live.