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Status: Current, Extended Mission
Mission Category: Earth Observing System (EOS)
Launch Date: December 18, 1999
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA
Designed Life: December 18, 2005

The Terra (formerly called EOS AM-1) satellite is the flagship of NASA's Earth Science Missions. Terra is the first EOS (Earth Observing System) platform and provides global data on the state of the atmosphere, land, and oceans, as well as their interactions with solar radiation and with one another.

Key Terra Facts

Mission/Portal Page:
Reference Handbook:
Altitude:Distance from sea level. 720km
Inclination: 98.1°
Local Node:Approximate time, at the equator when vehicle is directly overhead. 10:40 a.m.
Instruments: ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer)
CERES (Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System)
MISR (Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer)
MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)
MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere)
Project Scientist(s): Kurtis Thome
Deputy Project Scientist(s): Robert Wolfe
Si-Chee Tsay

Related Publications:

Relevant Science Focus Areas:

  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Carbon Cycle, Ecosystems, and Biogeochemistry
  • Climate Variability and Change
  • Earth Surface and Interior
  • Water and Energy Cycles
  • Weather

Relevant Science Questions:

  • How does the Earth system respond to natural and human-induced changes?
  • How is the global Earth system changing?
  • How will the Earth system change in the future?

Science Goals:

  • Provide the first global and seasonal measurements of the Earth system, including those of snow and ice, surface temperature, clouds, water vapor, land cover, and land and ocean biological productivity.
  • Improve our ability to detect human impacts on the Earth system and climate, identify the ’fingerprint’ of human activity on climate, and predict climate change by using the new global observations in climate models.
  • Help develop technologies for disaster prediction, characterization, and risk reduction from wildfires, volcanoes, floods, and droughts.
  • Start long-term monitoring of global climate change and environmental change.

Related Applications:

  • Agricultural Efficiency
  • Air Quality
  • Carbon Management
  • Coastal Management
  • Disaster Management
  • Ecological Forecasting
  • Energy Management
  • Homeland Security
  • Invasive Species
  • Public Health
  • Water Management