Terra

Overview

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

  • Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)
  • Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES)
  • Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR)
  • Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT)
  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)

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.

Learn more: http://terra.nasa.gov/

Disasters Applications

Latest Updates

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 18, 2020
The August Complex fire formed under very hot and dry conditions in northern California on August 17th, 2020. Reportedly, 37 individual fires initiated by lightning strikes merged to create this conflagration, which claimed the life of one firefighter on August 31st, 2020 according to the U.S. Forest Service. Researchers from the MISR Active Aerosol Plume-Height (AAP) Project, based out of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland, along with colleagues from JPL and the NASA Langley Research Center used data from multiple Earth observing satellites to map the properties...
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 ...
September 4, 2020
At least seven major wildfires were burning across California as early as 10:30 a.m. PDT on August 20th, 2020.
Researchers from the MISR Active Aerosol Plume-Height (AAP) Project, based out of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and the University of Maryland, used data from NASA's Terra satellite to map the properties and near-source dispersion of smoke plumes from California’s Milepost 21 wildfire that burned during August 2020.  Credit: MISR Active Aerosol Plume-Height (AAP) Project / K.J. Noyes, R. Kahn, J. Limbacher (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) At least seven major wildfires...
August 28, 2020
MISR visualization from Hurricane Laura
On August 25th, Several days before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a destructive category 4 storm in Louisiana, NASA’s Terra satellite flew over Laura in the Gulf of Mexico. Using its Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument, the satellite collected data on wind speeds and cloud-top heights as the storm intensified and moved northwest towards the U.S. Gulf Coast.  Interactive visualization of 3D cloud-top height data from Hurricane Laura on August 25th, 2020, captured by the MISR instrument onboard...
January 23, 2020
Screenshot of MISR from the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal. 
On December 16th, 2019 NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the eastern coast of Australia, capturing 3D data on the height of smoke plumes emanating from the fires with its Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument. Using data from this overpass, the NASA Disasters Program in collaboration with the Active Aerosol Plume-height (AAP) project has developed the first ever interactive 3D visualization of MISR fire plume-height data, which demonstrates the new 3D capabilities of the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal. ...
January 22, 2020
Figure 2: Data from the CALIPSO CALIOP lidar instrument shows the height, location and density of the smoke plume as it moved over New Zealand on January 1st, 2020. Credit: NASA Disasters Program, Jean-Paul Vernier (NASA LARC).
Figure 1: Suomi-NPP VIIRS true color imagery from December 31st, 2019 (background) is overlaid with VIIRS “hot spot” data (red areas) showing fire locations, and OMPS Aerosol Index (orange areas) showing the transport of the smoke plume over the Tasmanian sea. Credit: NASA Disasters Program, Jean-Paul Vernier (NIA / NASA LaRC). Created using NASA Worldview. On New Year Eve 2019 a series of massive thunderstorms generated by devastating fires across the states of New South Wales and...
November 15, 2018
The Measurement of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument is flying on board NASA's Terra satellite. It observes Carbon Monoxide (CO) in the troposphere through thermal and near infrared channels. This product was created by the MOPITT Near-Real Time system on Saturday November 10, 2018 and submitted to NASA Worldview. The images clearly show enhanced levels of carbon monoxide associated with the Camp and Woolsey wildfires in northern and...
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 11, 2018
MISR Imagery Hurricane Michael 
MISR (a NASA instrument that flies aboard the Terra satellite) carries nine cameras fixed at different angles, each of which viewed Michael over the course of approximately seven minutes when it was just off Florida's west coast on Tuesday October 9, 2018. This composite image shows the view from the central, downward-pointing camera (left), the calculated cloud-top heights (middle), and wind velocity vectors (right) superimposed on the image. The length of the...
October 11, 2018
NASA MISR Image
NASA MISR Image  NASA’s MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer) instrument on-board the Terra satellite captured Hurricane Michael with the eye in mid swath on October 9, 2018. This MISR image was captured during Terra orbit 100049. MISR carries nine cameras to view the earth at nine widely-spaced angles and provides calibrated images in four spectral bands at each of the angles.
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):...
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 23, 2018
Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean on August 21, 2018 compiled by Coral Reef Watch, which blends observations from the Suomi NPP, MTSAT, Meteosat, and GOES satellites, and computer models. 
Multiple threatening tropical cyclones spun over the Pacific Ocean in August 2018. In the northwest Pacific basin, typhoons Soulik and Cimaron took aim at Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Then Hurricane Lane lined up in the tropical Pacific for an encounter with the Hawaiian Islands. At 10:45 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (20:45 Universal Time) on August 21, 2018, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of Hurricane Lane. Around that time, Lane was a powerful category 4 hurricane with...
May 7, 2018
ASTER image acquired May 6 picks up hotspots on the thermal infrared bands – shown in yellow. These hotspots are newly formed fissures and lava flows.
ASTER image acquired May 6 picks up hotspots on the thermal infrared bands – shown in yellow. These hotspots are newly formed fissures and lava flows. Credits: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team The eruption of Kilauea Volcano on the island of Hawaii triggered a number of gas- and lava-oozing fissures in the East Rift Zone of the volcano. The fissures and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas prompted evacuations in the area. Images taken from the Advanced...
November 30, 2017
MODIS True Color Terra Image
Imagery Acquired November 27, 2017 This RGB image from MODIS/Terra on November, 27th shows the presence of ash vented out from the Agung volcano as gray and brownish areas above clouds and/or water. This contrasts with the whiter clouds on the left side of the image.
October 25, 2017
NASA's Terra Satellite Image
As firefighters continue to work toward full containment of the rash of wildfires burning in Northern California. This image from NASA's Terra Satellite acquired on Oct. 21, 2017, shows the growing fire scar on the landscape. As firefighters continue to work toward full containment of the rash of wildfires burning in Northern California, 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...
May 3, 2017
MODIS image of flooding in Missouri.
Terra MODIS image of Missouri acquired on April 25th, 2017. Terra MODIS image of Missouri floods acquired on May 2nd, 2017. On May 2, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this ...

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