Satellites & Space-based Instruments

Visualization of world map with satellite orbits

This constellation of six microsatellites uses radio occultation (limb sounding) to study the atmosphere. COSMIC's global coverage provides information on the atmosphere's temperature and water vapor structure, even above hard-to-reach locations, such as Antarctica and the remote Pacific. (launched 2006, news updates)

large sensing instrument atop shipping container

FAESR is a community database with eight different instrument categories ranging from ground-based to satellite deployments. Based at NCAR, FAESR includes descriptions of facilities, locations, capabilities, deployment options and availability, researcher contacts, new instruments on the horizon, and more.

Visualization of satellite in earth orbit

An international collaboration, the Hinode mission seeks to understand the physical links between magnetic fields near the solar surface (the photosphere) and their energetic and dynamic consequences in the outer solar atmosphere (the corona). For example, new measurements will help unravel how changes in the magnetic fields give rise to mass ejections of energized particles that bombard Earth during solar storms. (launched 2006, news update)

Visualization in blue, green and yellow

This instrument aboard NASA's Aura satellite is designed to gather fine-scale data on aerosols and 10 trace gases, including ozone and water vapor, from altitudes of 5 to 50 miles (8-80 kilometers). Looking at Earth's limb (the edge of Earth from the satellite perspective), HIRDLS gathers information by measuring the infrared radiation emitted by atmospheric gases. (launched 2004, news updates)

Visualization of three round photographs of earth's pollution over planet Earth

Looking down from NASA's Tera satellite, MOPITT senses infrared radiation, from which the distribution of carbon monoxide in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere, can be determined. Carbon monoxide persists in the atmosphere for several weeks, making it a good marker for the movement of pollution around the world. (launched 1999, news updates )