Aqua

Overview

Aqua, Latin for water, is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission is collecting about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables also being measured by Aqua include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures.

Aqua was launched on May 4, 2002, and has six Earth-observing instruments on board, collecting a variety of global data sets. Aqua was originally developed for a six-year design life but has now far exceeded that original goal. It continues transmitting high-quality data from four of its six instruments, AIRS, AMSU, CERES, and MODIS, and reduced quality data from a fifth instrument, AMSR-E. The sixth Aqua instrument, HSB, collected approximately nine months of high quality data but failed in February 2003.

Learn more: http://aqua.nasa.gov/

Disasters Applications

  • The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder  (AIRS) instrument can be used to track the dispersion of SO2 and ash clouds following an explosive volcanic eruption. AIRS sulfur dioxide data are used to alert the air transportation industry about volcanic eruptions. Combined with measurements of volcanic ash, they provide a long-term record of the effects of volcanoes on the atmosphere.  (https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=pia19385)
  • AIRS senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth. The information is used to map such atmospheric phenomena as temperature, humidity, and cloud amounts and heights in tropical cyclones and other storm systems. (https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7492)
  • The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument is used to detect water extent in support of flood response and recovery. The MODIS Near Real-Time Global Flood Mapping Project produces global daily surface and flood water maps at approximately 250 m resolution, in 10x10 degree tiles. (https://floodmap.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/)
  • MODIS provides natural-color images of tropical cyclones to help track storms and analyze intensity as they move toward land. (https://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/individual.php?db_date=2018-09-09
  • MODIS is used to detect wildfires and smoke plumes in support of fire response and recovery. MODIS data helps to power the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) (https://firms.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/map/#z:3;c:0.0,0.0;d:2020-01-16..20...)

Disaster Types

Latest Updates

October 16, 2020
This natural-color image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite shows a pyrocumulonimbus cloud forming from the the Creek Fire on September 5th, 2020. Credit: NASA Worldview.
The Creek Fire in Sierra National Forest has become one of the largest fires in California history, and has destroyed 286,519 acres in Fresno and Madera Counties as of September 24 according to media reports. Researchers working with the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program to study the air quality impacts of the fires used multiple Earth observing instruments to track the transport of smoke into the atmosphere from the Creek Fire. These observations show the smoke plume from these fires reaching all the way into the stratosphere – a relatively rare phenomena that was last seen in...
September 24, 2020
The map on the left shows the location and amount of fires detected by MODIS in California in July and August 2020, while the map on the right shows the location and severity of drier-than-average soil moisture conditions. These data show that more fires
Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center used data from the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to track the correlation between soil moisture conditions and wildfire susceptibility in the 2020 California wildfire season. The top chart shows the number of fires detected in Northern California from September 2019 through August 2020, while bottom chart shows how the soil moisture deviates from average conditions over the same time period (also known as soil...
September 16, 2020
Damage Proxy Map of the LNU Lightning Complex fires showing likely damaged areas in red and yellow.
As record-setting fires continue to ravage the western United States, with large fire complexes currently burning in California, Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado, coordinators and scientists from the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program are hard at work developing maps, imagery and analysis to aid local agencies and response teams in understanding the impacts from the fires and the potential risks to people, infrastructure, and the environment. In late August the...
September 12, 2020
OMPS shows smoke plumes from the California fires
Climate and fire scientists have long anticipated that fires in the U.S. West would grow larger, more intense, and more dangerous. But even the most experienced among them have been at a loss for words in describing the scope and intensity of the fires burning in West Coast states in September 2020. Lightning initially triggered many of the fires, but it was ...
April 29, 2020
Active fires in Colombia and Venezuela detected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite on March 27th, 2020. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
For much of March and April 2020, satellites have detected signatures of heat and smoke from fires burning in northwestern Venezuela. Some of them burned in and near Ciénagas del Catatumbo National Park, a flat swampy area west of Lake Maracaibo known for its rainforests full of unusual plant and animal life.
January 27, 2020
An alternate angle of the Aqua MODIS overpass, showing areas where pyrocumulonimbus storms were detected. Credit: NASA Disasters Program, Jean-Paul Vernier (NIA / NASA LaRC)
In December 2019 and January 2020 Australia has experienced widespread and severe fires causing extensive damage to the local ecosystem and communities and blanketing the surrounding regions in smoke. By studying data from multiple Earth-observing satellites and different types of sensors, NASA researchers can get a more comprehensive understanding of the extent of the fires and their impact to the surrounding communities. Photograph of smoke rising from fires on the east coast of Australia,...
November 13, 2018
This image from NASA Worldview shows smoke from the California Camp Fire as seen by the AQUA satellite's MODIS instrument. Credits: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).
The six-day-old Camp Fire has already attained the unfortunate title of California's deadliest fire. The Camp Fire has already led to 42 deaths with a number of residents still unaccounted for. It is also the most destructive in California history as well with over 7,000 structures destroyed by the blaze. The fire began on Nov. 08, 2018 and has grown to a staggering 125,000 acres in just under a week. The cause of this blaze is still under investigation. California state regulators are investigating two utility companies that reported incidents close in time and location to the start of...
October 26, 2018
AMSR-2 precipitation aquired 10/22/18.
AMSR-2 precipitation from Hurricane Willa acquired 10/22/18. On October 22, 2018 the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) instrument, onboard Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM)-W1 satellite, observed the surface precipitation rates of Hurricane Willa as it approached Mexico. This Land, Atmosphere Near-Real Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) NRT AMSR2 image shows high precipitation...
October 25, 2018
Super Typhoon Yutu
Aqua MODIS natural-color image of Typhoon Yutu acquired on October 24, 2018. In just 30 hours from October 23-24, 2018, a tropical storm in the western Pacific Ocean exploded into a category 5 super typhoon. Now that storm has made a direct hit on Tinian and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a territory of the United States. Super Typhoon Yutu has tied ...
October 13, 2018
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captures sediment stirred up by Michael.  
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of seafloor sediment and river outflows (and possibly plankton) discoloring the water along the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama. The satellite passed over the area in the early afternoon on October 13, 2018. The sediment and other debris was stirred up by the churning action of wind and waves as ...
October 10, 2018
NASA's MODIS Instrument Captures Hurricane Michael
On October 8, 2018 the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Michael when it was a Category 1 hurricane near the western tip of Cuba. Aqua is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission collecting information about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional...
October 10, 2018
NASA's AIRS Captures Hurricane Michael 
NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Hurricane Michael on October 8, 2018 at 2:47 p.m. EDT (1847 UTC). The NASA AIRS instrument captured Hurricane Michael's strongest storms. AIRS also captured a thick band of storms feeding into the center from the eastern quadrant. In those areas cloud top temperatures as cold as -63 degrees Fahrenheit were found. Storms with cloud top temperatures this low have the capability to produce heavy rainfall.
September 18, 2018
This MODIS flood detection map from 9/19/18 shows the 1-day flood product (in red), on top of the 1-day surface water product (in yellow) in Google Earth.
UPDATE 9/19/18: This MODIS flood detection map from 9/19/18 shows the 1-day flood product (in red), on top of the 1-day surface water product (in yellow) in Google Earth. The MODIS Near Real-Time Global Flood Mapping Project produces global daily surface and flood water maps at approximately 250 m resolution, in 10x10 degree tiles. This project was developed in collaboration with Bob Brakenridge at the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO):...
September 14, 2018
This natural-color image shows how Hurricane Florence appeared from above to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on September 11, 2018. The second image, acquired by CloudSat on the same day, shows a cross-secti
This natural-color image shows how Hurricane Florence appeared from above to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on September 11, 2018. The second image, acquired by CloudSat on the same day, shows a cross-section—how the storm would look if it had been sliced near the middle and viewed from the side.  In April 2006, a Boeing Delta II rocket launched CloudSat, along with a...
September 14, 2018
This image, taken at 1:35 pm local time on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) onboard NASA's Aqua satellite shows Hurricane Florence whose strong winds are expected to reach the Carolina coast late Thursday. Florence in
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, is a facility instrument whose goal is to support climate research and improve weather forecasting. Launched into Earth orbit on May 4, 2002 aboard NASA's Aqua satellite, AIRS moves climate research and weather prediction into the 21st century. AIRS is one of six instruments onboard Aqua, which is part of NASA's Earth Observing System of satellites.  This image, taken at 1:35 pm local time on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by the Atmospheric Infrared...
August 26, 2018
This image shows Hurricane Lane as observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite on Thursday, August 23. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This image shows Hurricane Lane as observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite on Thursday, August 23. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech Instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites were watching as Hurricane Lane -- a category 2 storm as of Friday, Aug. 24 -- made its way toward Hawaii. NASA's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) captured images of Lane on just before noon local time on Aug. 24. MISR, flying onboard NASA’s Terra satellite,...
August 6, 2018
Aqua MODIS data acquired August 2nd, 2018. 
Aqua MODIS natural color image acquired August 2nd, 2018. Aqua MODIS false color image acquired August 2nd, 2018.  Wildfires continue to rage in Northern California and other parts of the American West. Thousands of firefighters are battling fires fueled by hot, mostly dry weather and strong winds. On August 2, 2018, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ...
April 24, 2018
Brightness Temperature Difference-based detection of sulfur dioxide (SO2).  The larger (absolute value) differences suggest larger quantities of SO2.
Examples of Ambae data products from the AIRS Rapid Response Website at JPL.  This site, currently under development, contains data products generated automatically for AIRS granules, or scenes.   The AIRS Rapid Response products may be used to track the dispersion of SO2 (Image 1) and ash clouds (Image 2) following an explosive volcanic eruption. The cloud cover product (Image 3) is an aid to interpreting the SO2 and ash detection products. The cloud cover was dense, with a tropical cyclone developing off the coast of Australia. The apparent lack of ash, relative to the presence...
April 1, 2017
Aqua true-color image overlaid with active-fire detections, shown in red, take from MODIS (onboard Terra and Aqua) and VIIRS (onboard Suomi-NPP), showing smoke streaming from wildfires in Guatemala on April 1st 2017.
Fires started to burn in early March in the protected regions of Sierra del Lacandón National Park (also Laguna del Tigre), which is located in the tropical rain forest in the north west of Guatemala.   Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) data are being used to locate fire lines that are difficult to see from the ground, and these data are also being used to analyze long term fire trends.  One Guatemalan weekly report highlighted the improved value of VIIRS data to locate small fires and the valuable long–term...
February 9, 2017
The interactive map on the website shows images of areas with fires or floods, taken by NASA's AQUA satellite and the International Space Station (ISS).
Visit the interactive map website: http://science.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=9ef5b5839... The interactive map on the website shows images of areas with fires or floods, taken by NASA's AQUA satellite and the International Space Station (ISS). The United States and Argentina have combined resources to produce a Spanish language website...

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