Satellite Information

Current Satellite Data

Current GOES Satellite Images

Current Geostationary Weather Satellite Images

Current Geostationary Weather Satellite Images

Purpose of Satellite Data

The use of satellites to make observations of the earth goes back to the 50's and 60's.  With the first downward looking images of the earth it was very easy to identify the location of storm systems and track their movement.  This capability did not have a large impact in weather forecasting since we already had a network of observing stations established.  However, the greatest benefit came in the observation of weather systems developing over the oceans where it is difficult to establish a network of observing stations.
Satellites have become much more sophistocated over the years and are much more than cameras in the sky.  They are now able to measure physical parameters of the earth's atmosphere and the earth's surface.  This includes such things as surface temperature, land productivity, and precipitation.


TERRA is the first of a series of satellites that belong to the Earth Observing System (EOS).  It was launched December 18, 1999 and will begin regular transmission of data in late April 2000.
Homepage for TERRA
Image Gallery of TERRA and its Sensors

Description of Terra

TERRA consists of 5 sensors which will be used to study aerosols, global cloudiness, heat transfer in the atmosphere, changes in global land surface, and oceanic effects on climate.  The 5 sensors are listed below with a short summary of their purpose.  TERRA orbits at an altitude of 705 km and will remain in operation for 5 years.
ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) - Purpose is to "obtain high spatial resolution global, regional, and local images of the Earth in 14 spectral bands."
Technical Specification for ASTER
Description of ASTER data products
CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) - Purpose is to measure changes in the radiative energy balance due to long-term climate changes, diurnal and seasonal cycles, and cloud forcing.
Description of CERES data products
Online Documentation for CERES
MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer) - Purpose is to study "the ecology and climate of Earth through the acquisition of global multiangle imagery on the daylit side of Earth.
Technical Specification for MISR
Publication Listing related to MISR

MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) - Purpose is to study the "global dynamics and processes occuring on the land, in the ocean, and in the lower atmosphere."

Technical Specification for MODIS
Publication Listing related to MODIS
Description of MODIS data products
MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere) - Purpose is to "measure carbon monoxide and methane in the troposphere over the entire globe."
Online Documentation for MOPITT

Data Sources and Resources

Goddard DAAC - This location provides the front end for accessing data from MODIS as well as other satellite sensors.
NCSA HDF - Data from MODIS will be distributed in the HDF format.  HDF was developed at the University of Illinois and this site contains information and programs which allow you to access HDF data files.
Remote Sensing Tutorial - This document provides background on remote sensing and introduces you to terminology and techniques of applying satellite data to observations of physical parameters.