Terra: the EOS Flagship

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. Images of five globes, each depicting an example of data collected by Terra instruments, including land composition from ASTER, reflected energy from CERES, vegetation snow and ice from MODIS, aerosols from MISR, and carbon monoxide from MOPITT.

Terra Begins Drifting. What's Next?

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...

Terra: Providing Critical Data to Help Society

Terra's five sensors help us understand out changing planet and provide critical data used in applications from food security, volcanic monitoring, wildfire safety, public health, and climate modeling. Terra's twenty years of data continue to contribute to how we understand Earth and how we respond when disasters strike.

Twenty Years of Terra in Our Lives

Terra's suite of instruments allows us to understand our world well beyond what we knew twenty years ago, when Terra launched. In those twenty years, new applications and contributions to science have been made possible.

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

Science Visualizations







Ocean Color in Gulf of Alaska