Image from TERRA
Mon, 30 Oct 2017 12:25 EDT

Former Tropical Storm Saola transitioned into an extra-tropical storm on Oct. 29 as it tracked southeast of the big island of Japan.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Oct 2017 11:36 EDT

When Typhoon Lan made landfall in Japan on Oct. 22, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission core satellite or GPM analyzed the storm and added up the high rainfall that it generated.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:22 EDT

A new image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite shows the growing fire scar on the landscape.


MOPITT News and Events

Evaluating MOPITT and ACE Upper-Tropospheric Carbon Monoxide Retrievals with HIPPO In-Situ Measurements

Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument on board NASA’s Terra satellite measures carbon monoxide (CO) in the troposphere, the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere, ranging from sea level up to 20 km at the equator and 7 km near the poles. There are few in situ profiles, measurements that are taken from the natural position rather than remotely, that reach into the upper troposphere (UT), limiting understanding of MOPITT performance at that atmospheric level. It is important for any data collected by satellites to be validated against other existing data to ensure that the information being collected is accurate and applicable.

In a recent poster presented at the American Geophysical Union Conference, MOPITT CO levels were validated and contrasted by the Fourier Transform Spectrometer on board the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE-FTS), from the Canadian Space Agency and the Quantum Cascade Laser Spectrometer on the HIAPER Pole to Pole Observations experiment (HIPPO-QCLS).  ACE-FTS has been monitoring the upper troposphere since 2004, providing data for much of the same time as MOPITT and HIPPO-QCLS data has high resolution, precision, and accuracy from its in situ measurements, making it an ideal source for validating the MOPITT measurements.

Terra Celebrates 5,000th Day on Orbit

Much has changed since Magellan circumnavigated Earth almost 500 years ago or since the first astronaut orbited Earth over 50 years ago. August 26, 2013 marks another historical event in exploring our earth. Terra, the flagship Earth Observing Satellite, sees the Earth for the 5,000th day celebrating its 5,000th day on orbit.

Terra paved the way for other Earth Observing Satellites through observations made by its five instruments from three countries, MODIS, MISR, and CERES from the United States, ASTER from Japan, and MOPITT from Canada.  Terra is a global partnership, advancing the scientific understanding of our Earth’s processes and changing climate.

MODIS, the MODerate Imaging Spectroradiometer, has captured images of numerous wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural events, while quantifying the amount of vegetation that covers Earth, monitoring sea surface temperature, capturing ocean color, observing the lower atmosphere and providing traceable images of the changing ice sheets. Since its launch in December of 1999 Terra MODIS has supplied irreplaceable data to monitor climate change, improving understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on Earth.

MISR, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer, monitors Earth from multiple angles at the same time. MISR, the first instrument of its kind, measures the amount of sunlight that is scattered in different directions from Earth’s surface and atmosphere through its suite of nine pushbroom sensors pointed in different directions.  MISR gives depth to what would otherwise be flat images, revealing what lies below the initial surface as seen from space. MISR also distinguishes different types of clouds, particles and surfaces, monitoring trends and contributing to the historical record of a changing climate.

CERES, Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System, on Terra was the second to launch.  The most recent CERES instrument launched in 2011 onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) Satellite.  CERES data leads to a better understanding of the role of clouds and the energy cycle in global climate change through taking measurements of incoming and outgoing solar radiation related to cloud properties and physics, enhancing the accuracy of current climate models.

ASTER, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, data is used to create detailed maps of land surface temperature, reflectance, and elevation. It is a cooperative effort between NASA, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Japan Space Systems. Anytime a volcano erupts, ASTER is able to see the thermal fingerprint left by the cascading lava and the warm surface temperature.  ASTER measures infrared radiation and contributes to data sets that reveal more than meets the eye about land use, hydrology, and geologic composition of the land. Its data are used to locate archeologically significant areas, to assist in locating mineral deposits and mapping geologic features, as well as to further the understanding of how humans and natural events change Earth’s surface.  ASTER’s high resolution makes it possible to monitor Earth’s surface at a higher resolution than Terra’s other instruments, enhancing validation and calibration capabilities.

MOPITT, Measurements Of Pollution in The Troposphere, measure tropospheric carbon monoxide (CO) on a global scale. Methane oxidation, fossil fuel consumption and biomass burning produce CO. MOPITT data enables scientists to analyze sources and sinks of CO and track CO’s movement throughout the globe. Through studying this trace gas scientists are able to map CO levels in the lower atmosphere, furthering our understanding of how CO levels change due to both natural and human caused events, ultimately helping understand pollution’s role in climate change.

5,000 days orbiting the Earth is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but Terra has done little to make people dizzy.  Instead, this forerunner in collecting climate science data has paved the way for other satellite missions to clearly understand what changes are occurring on Earth and how they may continue to change well into the future.  As Terra continues into its teenage years, mature for a satellite, it continues to collect measurements that lead to a better understanding of our changing planet.




article by Tassia Owen

Dust Dominates Foreign Aerosol Imports to North America

Dust Moving West of Sea of Japan

NASA and university scientists have made the first measurement-based estimate of the amount and composition of tiny airborne particles that arrive in the air over North America each year. With a 3-D view of the atmosphere now possible from satellites, the scientists calculated that dust, not pollution, is the main ingredient of these imports.Read more.

MOPITT Researcher: Dr. Helen Worden

Dr. Helen Worden is the Project Scientist in the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  She is one of the leading experts in the use of MOPITT and Tropospheric Emissions Spectrometer to study carbon monoxide (CO) and other gases in the atmosphere.

What do you study?

HW: I study trace gases in the lowest part of the atmosphere, including air pollutants like ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO), using satellite remote sensing.

MOPITT is one of the instruments you use to study carbon monoxide (CO), can you tell us some of the observations you have observed so far?

HW: I have used MOPITT CO data to follow the global transport of pollution from major urban areas and from large fires. We also use MOPITT data to estimate the sources and strengths of CO emissions.

Recently, I have been using MOPITT data, along with a regional model for weather and chemistry (WRF-Chem) to quantify the reduction in CO emissions due to the traffic restrictions that were imposed during the Beijing 2008 Olympics to improve air quality. Because we know the ratio of CO to CO2 for emissions from fossil fuels in China, we can also estimate the reduction in CO2 for the Beijing Olympics.

You study carbon dioxide (CO2) as well, which is also a trace carbon gas that exists in the lower atmosphere.  Can you explain how it’s different from CO?

HW: CO and CO2 are both emitted from burning fossil fuels and wildfires, but CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas and also has a much longer lifetime in the atmosphere (hundreds of years) compared to CO (less than a few months).

What roles do CO play in the Earth System Science?

HW: CO is a pollutant near the surface, but at normal levels, around 100 ppb (parts per billion), CO is not harmful. (CO is deadly at concentrations larger than 400 parts per million).

Although CO itself does not have a significant greenhouse effect, it converts chemically to ozone, methane and carbon dioxide, which are major greenhouse gases. So, the emissions of CO are considered important to climate change.

Since it has a medium lifetime in the atmosphere (longer than a day, but not more than a few months), CO can be used to track pollution events and how they are transported across the globe. These events, such as large fires, have higher concentrations of CO that are easily measured over atmospheric background levels.

Are efforts to decrease CO emissions working?

HW: Yes, especially with the improved emissions in newer cars.

Finally, what you do is very technical”¦, what inspired you to go into this field?

HW: Understanding our atmosphere is very challenging, but necessary if we want to make informed decisions for our future. I also find remote sensing really interesting and at times, very exciting, like when we launch a satellite and we get a whole new image of our world.