Image from TERRA
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 10:30 EDT

Water departments in the West are using maps and models originally created by a NASA team to help track water.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 15 Sep 2022 10:00 EDT

NASA and Google broadened an existing partnership to help local governments improve their monitoring and prediction of air quality for better decision making.

Image from TERRA
Mon, 11 Jul 2022 09:30 EDT

Ozone pollution assessments made for the Great Lakes region now include NASA satellite and other near-real time Earth observations.

Category: News and Events

News and Events

Graphic showing picture of Alicia Scott working as a Terra Mission Flight Operator, followed by the text: Meet Alicia Scott, NASA Computer Engineer. Alicia was one of the very first online flight operators for NASA's Terra satellite mission, more than 23 years ago! 

Learn more about Alicia, and her experiences working at NASA, in our short Q&A posted below.
  • Who or what inspired you to get your master’s in computer science? 

My parents always encouraged me and my siblings “not to work as hard” as they did, so I felt like getting a college degree was necessary to ensure more financial freedom than they experienced. I like puzzles and knew that computers would be essential to the majority of careers in the future so I knew computer science was a secure option. 

  • What was it like being one of the first computer programmers to work on the Terra mission?

Well, I was an online operator responsible for commanding the Terra spacecraft through daily operations, quality of data transmitted from the ground stations and working with engineers during anomaly recovery. There was no programming necessary for that position. 

The titles I had were Command Controller and Mission Planner. As the Command Controller, I was responsible for sending commands directly to the Terra spacecraft to ensure daily operations, communicating with the White Sands Ground Station to conduct passes where the spacecraft downloaded data to the ground, and performing quality control of data received. As the mission planner, I was responsible for generating and verifying the actions and timing of commands in the file uploaded to the spacecraft over a period of several days.

  • How did your work on the Terra Mission shape the rest of your career at NASA? 

I learned a lot about the importance of reliability and attention to detail. Additionally, it allowed me to see how many groups of people it takes to run a successful mission and understand how distributed all these groups of people are, which lead me to understand the importance of building relationships and efficient communication. These are all skills and information I have been able to apply to perform duties on subsequent projects.

  • How has the field of computer science changed since you worked on Terra back in the early 2000s?

It has changed so much since then! When I was graduating with my degree, we had maybe a handful of popular programming languages. That has ballooned into more than I can count, so keeping up with the latest advancements has been challenging. Also, the idea of cloud computing has reached us and is underway at our agency. This  revamps our on-premise system architectures and how we will design tools to be optimized for the cloud.

  • How has your identity, as a Black woman, shaped your work at NASA? Were there specific challenges or support systems that you experienced along the way? 

I have been fortunate to have never experienced direct disadvantages due to my race during my career at NASA. Rather, I feel it has been really hard to be seen and respected as a woman here. I believe that honest efforts are being made to eliminate those issues in this new age of breaking down barriers and aggressively improving paths to inclusion and diversity. 

  • What’s one piece of advice you would give to young Black scientists who want to pursue a computer science career at NASA?

Please apply! You have a valuable perspective, drive, and dynamic that is needed to keep NASA growing in its innovative offerings, engineering advancements and scientific discoveries. A diverse workforce provides introduction of new ideas, deeper consideration for societal impact and a more grand final product. When we all work together a better future is realized. 

Special thanks to Alicia Scott for sharing her story!

Here’s a cheesy message from us to you! We hope you all have a Terra-fic Valentine’s Day, from everyone at the Terra Mission!

You're Terra-fic! Happy Valentine's Day from the Terra Mission!

We’re kicking off the new year with a fresh homepage layout and a new bi-weekly series of infographics that highlight important Terra information. Our first infographic highlights the continued high quality of Terra instrument data — even with Terra’s new orbit (click the link to learn more!). Feel free to share this graphic widely, and check back for more Terra facts every other week on the Terra website homepage.

Headline: The quality of Terra's instrument data remains as high as expected, even after changes to the satellite's orbit.  Main text: Did you know? The Terra satellite has been drifting in orbit since February 2020, and was lowered ~5km in altitude in October 2022.  These new orbit conditions only impact Terra data in minor ways, like earlier data collection times and small swath width changes for some instruments; but there has been no degradation in the quality or usefulness of Terra instrument data.
Did You Know? The quality of Terra’s instrument data remains as high as expected, even after changes to the satellite’s orbit.

In late November, Science magazine interviewed Terra Project Scientist Dr. Kurtis Thome for an article about Terra’s orbital drift and the novel science opportunities that will come from Terra’s earlier data collection. Access the full article here.

Terra’s Lower Orbit Virtual Community Forum took place on December 8th. Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to our discussion! Check out the full recording with links to the slide deck on our updated Terra’s Lower Orbit Virtual Community Forum webpage!

On December 18th, Terra celebrated its 23rd launch anniversary! Happy Birthday, Terra!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy new year — see you in 2023!

From undergoing an orbit lowering to headlining workshops on novel drifting data, Terra has had a big year so far! (And that’s not even accounting for the satellite’s continuous collection of high quality, earth science data, with no unintended interruptions!)

This news post will provide several important updates on recent instrument team meetings, upcoming virtual workshops featuring Terra, and an overview of three early career scientists using Terra data in their research.

Keep checking the website often for more updates and information on all things Terra!

2022 Meetings and Conferences

  • The CERES instrument team participated in the Fall 2022 Earth Radiation Budget Workshop in Hamburg, Germany from October 12 – 14, 2022. More information, including an agenda and presentation slide decks, can be found on the CERES website.
  • Several members of the Terra team participated in the 22nd William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium in Denver, CO from October 23 – 28, 2022. More information available on the Pecora 22 website.
  • The ASTER instrument team will hold a science and interface meeting in Tokyo, Japan from November 7-9, 2022.
  • The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2022 meeting will be held in Chicago, IL from December 12 – 16, 2022. For more information and an agenda, visit the AGU Fall Meeting 2022 website.

Upcoming Terra Workshops and Community Forums

Here’s a reminder that it’s your last chance to sign up for the virtual Terra, Aqua, and Aura Drifting Orbits Workshop that starts tomorrow, November 1-2, 2022. For more information and registration, visit the Terra website (or register here!).

On December 8th, 2022 from 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM ET, the Terra team will be hosting a virtual community forum on Terra’s recent orbit lowering maneuvers (that took place October 12th and 18th). See the graphic below for more information and a QR code linking directly to the Webex webinar registration page.

Infographic on upcoming virtual community forum on Terra satellite's new lower orbit.
Information on Terra’s Lower Orbit Community Forum (virtual webinar) scheduled for December 8, 2022, from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM ET.

Highlighting Two Decades of Terra Talent

Last week, several NASA Early Career researchers presented their current scientific work during the 2022 Early Career Scientist Forum (full agenda linked here).