Terra explores the connections between Earth’s atmosphere, land, snow and ice, ocean, and energy balance to understand Earth’s climate and climate change and to map the impact of human activity and natural disasters on communities and ecosystems
Terra data users have expressed the need for weekly updates on Terra’s equator crossing time (in UTC Mean Local Time), as well as orbital altitude. Starting this month, we’ll be adding this information to the Terra homepage and updating it weekly using data provided by the Operations Team. Move your cursor over the chart below to view both Terra’s Mean Local Equator Crossing Time in UTC and orbital altitude for each month through 2026.
Click the links below to catch up on all the latest Terra news and updates!
After more than 20 years orbiting at 705 km above Earth’s surface and routinely crossing the equator at approximately the same time every day, Terra is now drifting. With no maneuvers planned to sustain Terra’s altitude and crossing time, Terra will slowly get closer and closer to Earth – crossing the equator earlier and earlier as time passes. However, despite impacts to some of Terra’s nearly 100 data products, Terra’s five sensors continue to collect meaningful scientific data, producing one of the longest continuous climate data records collected by a satellite. Read more…
There is no question that technology has changed. But, at the same time that our lives on Earth were being shaped by our access to technology, 705 kilometers above us, a satellite was changing how we understood our planet.
For 20 years, Terra, the flagship Earth observing satellite,
has chronicled changes on Earth. Designed and built in the 1980s and 90s, NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers set out to build a satellite that could take simultaneous measurements of Earth’s atmosphere, land, and water. Its mission – to understand how Earth is changing and to identify the consequences for life on Earth. Season after season, Terra data continues to help
us understand how the evolving systems of our planet affect our lives – and how
we can use that data to benefit society. Read more and find resources from our anniversary events, Terra 20 Events
Update on Terra’s New Orbit: Since 2020, Terra has been drifting to an earlier equator crossing time, and in October 2022 was lowered by ~5km in altitude. These changes in orbit did not reduce the data quality of Terra products, and only created minor changes to orbital repeat time and swath width (for some instruments). See Terra’s New Orbit for more information.