Looking back, looking ahead: NASA's MISR reaches its 100,000th orbit on the Terra satellite
On December 18, 1999, on a clear winter morning, an Atlas II rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Onboard was a satellite called Terra, the flagship of a NASA initiative called the Earth Observing System. Terra’s suite of five scientific instruments sought to quantify Earth’s changing atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces. One of these instruments is the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. MISR carries nine cameras fixed at different angles, gathering unique multiangular views of Earth.
Terra’s original mission was slated to last six years. Now, more than eighteen years later, MISR and Terra’s other instruments are still steadfastly collecting data. On October 6, 2018, the satellite passed a significant milestone: its 100,000th orbit around the Earth. Terra joins a select group of NASA satellites that have made it to this venerable milestone. For more details, see this feature on Terra’s journey to 100,000.
Over the years, MISR’s multiangular capability has advanced our understanding of Earth: researchers have used MISR’s observations to construct a variety of global datasets including the heights of clouds and wildfire smoke; the amounts of dangerous particulate pollutants in the atmosphere; the movements of global wind systems; and the health of vegetation, among others. And MISR shows no sign of stopping soon: Terra is expected to continue collecting science data for many years into the future, limited only by the amount of fuel on the spacecraft, and MISR today is just as healthy as it was in 1999.
This set of images shows MISR’s last view from orbit 99,999 on the left, from MISR’s 70-degree backward-looking camera, with dusk falling over the snowy expanse of Queen Maud Land, the portion of Antarctica claimed by Norway. On the right is MISR’s first view from orbit 100,000, captured by its 70-degree forward-looking camera, where the sunrise illuminates clouds over the Kara Sea, north of Siberia.
The MISR team looks forward to many more years of Earth discoveries with the Terra mission.
These data were captured during Terra orbits 99999 and 100000. MISR data are available through the NASA Langley Research Center; for more information, go to https://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/project/misr/misr_table. MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. The Terra spacecraft is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The MISR data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center in Hampton, Virginia. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team
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