Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Aug 2021 13:05 EDT

Smoke from several large wildfires burning in Northern California can be seen traveling miles into the atmosphere.

Image from TERRA
Fri, 20 Aug 2021 12:00 EDT

Drought is a natural part of the climate cycle, but as Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm due to climate change, droughts are becoming more frequent, severe and pervasive. Ranchers throughout the U.S. are using data from NASA and others to care for their herds and the land during drought conditions.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:09 EDT

Evapotranspiration: Watching Over Water Use

About Terra

Approximately the size of a small school bus, the Terra satellite carries five instruments that take coincident measurements of the Earth system:

Terra is in a circular sun-synchronous polar orbit that takes it from north to south (on the daylight side of the Earth) every 99 minutes.

Spacecraft Quick Facts:
  • Launch Date: December 18,1999
  • Size: the spacecraft bus is 6.8 m long and 3.5 m across.
  • Weight: 5,190 kg (11,442 lbs.) at launch.

KSC-99PP-1412_web
Orbit Quick Facts: 
  • Altitude: 705 kilometers (438 miles) above Earth’s surface
  • Inclination: 98.5 degrees
  • Period: 99 minutes (14 complete orbits per day)
  • Ground track repeat: 16 days
  • Equatorial crossing: 10:30 a.m., descending mode


Terra Status:

  • Operating instruments: ASTER, CERES, MODIS, MISR, and MOPITT are operating well.  ASTER Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) data is unavailable.
  • Current systems issues: None.
  • Processed Terra data are available through several NASA data centers.
  • Current life expectancy: Terra  has far exceeded its design life and has a strong chance of operating successfully into the early 2020s. Terra began drifting in February of 2020. Read more about Terra’s drifting or see key dates below.

Key dates of Drift

  • Exceed 10:30 MLT (+/- 1 min) – April 2021*
  • Exceed 10:15 MLT – October 2022*
  • Constellation Exit – October 2022*
  • Exceed 9:00 MLT – December 2025*

Passivation dates are not yet determined, but passivation is expected to take place due to signal to noise limits from lower solar zenith angles, limited battery power from changing solar angle on the solar panels, or programmatic funding limits.

*Dates are subject to change.