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Missions

In order to study the Earth as a whole system and understand how it is changing, NASA develops and supports a large number of Earth observing missions. These missions provide Earth science researchers the necessary data to address key questions about global climate change.

Missions begin with a study phase during which the key science objectives of the mission are identified, and designs for spacecraft and instruments are analyzed. Following a successful study phase, missions enter a development phase whereby all aspects of the mission are developed and tested to insure it meets the mission objectives. Operating missions are those missions that are currently active and providing science data to researchers. Operating missions may be in their primary operational phase or in an extended operational phase.

The table below lists all Earth missions in all phases.

*Sort missions by clicking the column headers.

DivisionNameLaunch DatePhase
Earth ACRIMSAT
ACRIMSAT is the latest in a series of long-term solar-monitoring missions, utilizing the proven Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor III (ACRIM III) instrument. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions program.
19991220 December 20, 1999 4Past
Earth ADEOS
Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS) was the first international space platform dedicated to Earth environmental research developed and managed by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) (The Japanese call her MIDORI).
19960817 August 17, 1996 4Past
Earth AirMOSS
North American ecosystems are critical components of the global carbon cycle, exchanging large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases with the atmosphere. Root-zone soil measurements can be used to better understand these carbon fluxes and their associated uncertainties on ...
20120301 March 2012 3Operating
Earth Aqua
Aqua obtains a set of precise atmosphere and oceans measurements to understand their role in Earth's climate and its variations. Aqua carries six state-of-the-art instruments to observe the Earth's oceans, atmosphere, land, ice and snow covers, and vegetation, providing high ...
20020504 May 04, 2002 3Operating
Earth Aquarius
Aquarius is a focused satellite mission to measure global sea surface salinity (SSS). Its instruments measure changes in SSS equivalent to about a "pinch" (i.e., 1/6 of a teaspoon) of salt in 1 gallon of water. By measuring SSS over ...
20110610 June 10, 2011 3Operating
Earth ATLAS
ATLAS missions were part of Phase I of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, a large-scale, unified study of planet Earth as a single, dynamic system. Throughout the ATLAS series, scientists gathered new information to gain a better understanding of how ...
19920324 March 24, 1992 4Past
Earth ATS
The Applications Technology Satellite series was a set of 6 NASA spacecraft created to explore & flight test new technologies and techniques for communications, meteorological and navigation satellites.
19661207 December 07, 1966 4Past
Earth ATTREX
Stratospheric water vapor has large impacts on the earth’s climate and energy budget. Future changes in stratospheric humidity and ozone concentration in response to changing climate are significant climate feedbacks.
20111201 December 2011 3Operating
Earth Aura
The Aura satellite hosts a suite of scientific instruments designed to make the most comprehensive measurements ever undertaken of atmospheric trace gases. Aura's objective is to study the chemistry and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere with emphasis on the upper ...
20040715 July 15, 2004 3Operating
Earth CALIPSO
The CALIPSO satellite was developed to help scientists answer significant questions and provide new information about the effects of clouds and aerosols (airborne particles) on changes in the Earth's climate. Understanding these components will provide the international science community with ...
20060428 April 28, 2006 3Operating
Earth CARVE
The carbon budget of Arctic ecosystems is not known with confidence since fundamental elements of the complex Arctic biological-climatologic-hydrologic system are poorly quantified. Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) will collect detailed measurements of important greenhouse gases on local ...
20120301 2012 3Operating
Earth CHAMP
CHAMP generated, for the first time, simultaneously highly precise gravity and magnetic field measurements over a 10 year period. This allows the tracing of spatial and time variations of both fields for a long time. The provision of regularly radio ...
20000715 July 15, 2000 4Past
Earth CLARREO
The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Mission has been recommended in the NRC Decadal Survey as a key component of the future climate observing system. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions program.
1Under Study
Earth CloudSat
CloudSat uses advanced radar to "slice" through clouds to see their vertical structure, providing a completely new observational capability from space. CloudSat is one of the first satellites to study clouds on a global basis. This mission is part of ...
20060428 April 28, 2006 3Operating
Earth CRRES
The Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES) was launched into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) for a nominal three-year mission to investigate fields, plasmas, and energetic particles inside the Earth's magnetosphere.
19900725 July 25, 1990 4Past
Earth CYGNSS
The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The goal is a fundamental improvement in hurricane forecasting. The CYGNSS data will enable ...
20161030 October 2016 2Development
Earth DISCOVER-AQ
The overarching objective of the DISCOVER-AQ investigation is to improve the interpretation of satellite observations to diagnose near‐surface conditions relating to air quality. To diagnose air quality conditions from space, reliable satellite information on aerosols and ozone precursors is needed ...
20110701 July 2011 3Operating
Earth Dynamics Explorer
The Dynamics Explorer Plasma Wave Investigator mission's general objective was to investigate the strong interactive processes coupling the hot, tenuous, convecting plasmas of the magnetosphere and the cooler, denser plasmas and gases corotating in the earth's ionosphere, upper atmosphere, and ...
19810803 August 03, 1981 4Past
Earth Earth Observing-1 (NMP)
The NMP EO-1 mission is an advanced land-imaging mission that will demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems. EO-1 will validate technologies contributing to the significant reduction in cost of follow-on Landsat missions. The future of Earth science measurements requires that ...
20001121 November 21, 2000 3Operating
Earth ECOSTRESS
ECOSTRESS will provide critical insight into plant-water dynamics and how ecosystems change with climate via high spatiotemporal resolution thermal infrared radiometer measurements of evapotranspiration from the International Space Station (ISS).
20140901 September 2014 17Formulation
Earth ERBS
Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS), expected to have a two-year operation life, provided scientific data about the Earth's ozone layer for more than two decades. ERBS observations have also been used to determine how human activities such as the use ...
19841005 October 05, 1984 4Past
Earth ESSA
The Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) Satellite Program provided cloud-cover photography to the American National Meteorological Center from 1966 – 1972.
19660203 February 03, 1966 4Past
Earth GEDI
The scientific goal of the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation Lidar (GEDI) is to characterize the effects of changing climate and land use on ecosystem structure and dynamics to enable radically improved quantification and understanding of the Earth's carbon cycle and ...
20140901 September 2014 17Formulation
Earth Geosat
The U.S. Navy GEOdetic SATellite, GEOSAT, was launched on 12 March 1985, into an 800-km, 108-deg inclination orbit, carried an altimeter that was capable of measuring the distance from satellite to sea surface with a relative precision of about 5 ...
19850312 March 12, 1985 4Past
Earth GOES A - C
The launch of the prototype Synchronous Meteorological Satellite, SMS-A, in May 1974 inaugurated the series of geosynchronous satellites that has provided systematic, continuous observations of weather patterns. A second prototype, SMS-B, followed in February 1975. The GOES program formally began ...
19751016 October 16, 1975 4Past
Earth GOES D - H
GOES-4 advanced meteorologists’ capabilities by continuously profiling vertical temperature and water vapor. This major advancement permitted, for the first time, the monitoring of frame-to-frame movement of water vapor concentrations, a technique introduced by the European Meteosat-1 satellite. These missions are ...
19800909 September 09, 1980 4Past
Earth GOES I - M
The GOES I-M satellites are the primary element of U.S. weather monitoring and forecast operations and are a key component of NOAA's National Weather Service operations and modernization program. These missions are part of the GOES / POES program.
19940413 April 13, 1994 3Operating
Earth GOES N - P
GOES - N/O/P is the next series of GOES satellites. The multi-mission GOES series N - P will be a vital contributor to weather, solar, and space operations and science. These missions are part of the GOES / POES program.
20100304 March 04, 2010 3Operating
Earth GOES-R
GOES-R satellites will comprise improved spacecraft and instrument technologies, which will result in more timely and accurate weather forecasts, and improve support for the detection and observations of meteorological phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property, and ultimately, ...
20151001 October 2015 2Development
Earth GPM
GPM Constellation follows the success of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) in initiating the measurement of global precipitation, a key climate factor. Its science objectives are: to improve ongoing efforts to predict climate by providing near-global measurement of precipitation, its ...
20140227 February 2014 3Operating
Earth GRACE
The primary goal of the GRACE mission is to accurately map variations in the Earth's gravity field over its 5-year lifetime. This provides scientists from all over the world with an efficient and cost-effective way to map the Earth's gravity ...
20020317 March 17, 2002 3Operating
Earth GRIP
The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment is a NASA Earth science field experiment in 2010 that will be conducted to better understand how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes. NASA plans to use the DC-8 aircraft, ...
20100815 August 15, 2010 4Past
Earth HS3
Close to 100 million Americans now live within 50 miles of a coastline, thus exposing them to the potential destruction caused by a landfalling hurricane. While hurricane track prediction has improved in recent decades, improvements in hurricane intensity prediction have ...
20120801 August 2012 3Operating
Earth ICESat
ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) was the benchmark Earth Observing System mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic ...
20030112 January 12, 2003 4Past
Earth ICESat-2
ICESat (Ice, Cloud,and land Elevation Satellite) is the benchmark Earth Observing System mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions ...
20160401 2016 2Development
Earth Jason-1
Jason was an oceanography mission to monitor global ocean circulation, improve global climate predictions, and monitor events such as El Nino conditions and ocean eddies. The Jason-1 satellite carried a radar altimeter, and it was a follow-on mission to the ...
20011207 December 07, 2001 4Past
Earth LAGEOS 1&2
LAGEOS, or Laser Geodynamics Satellites, are a series of satellites designed to provide an orbiting benchmark for geodynamical studies of the Earth. LAGEOS 1 & 2 provide long-term data sets to monitor the motion of the Earth's tectonic plates; measure ...
19760504 May 04, 1976 3Operating
Earth Landsat 7
Landsat 7 is a joint NASA/USGS mission that launched in April 1999 to extend the Landsat record of multispectral, medium resolution, seasonal global coverage or Earth's land surfaces. Since May 2003, a failed Scan Line Corrector has resulted in a ...
19990415 April 15, 1999 3Operating
Earth LDCM/Landsat 8
Landsat 8 is the latest NASA/USGS mission to extend the Landsat record of multispectral, medium resolution, seasonal global coverage or Earth's land surfaces.
20130211 February 11, 2013 3Operating
Earth MOMS
The Modular Optoelectronic Multispectral Scanner (MOMS) is a scanning system (based on CCD technique) for airborne and predominantly spaceborne geoscientific remote sensing application.
19830618 June 18, 1983 4Past
Earth MOS
Marine Observation Satellite (MOS-1), Japan's first marine observation satellite, was launched in 1987 as a link in a global satellite observation system for more effective natural resource utilization and for environmental protection.
19870219 February 19, 1987 4Past
Earth Nimbus
The Nimbus series of missions was the United States’ primary research and development platform for satellite remote-sensing of the Earth. The satellites increased the scientific community’s knowledge of the Earth’s atmosphere, land surface and ecosystems, weather, and oceanography.
19640827 August 27, 1964 4Past
Earth NOAA-N
NOAA-N broadcasts data directly to thousands of users around the world and continues to provide a polar-orbiting platform to support the environmental monitoring instruments for imaging and measurement of the Earth's atmosphere, its surface, and cloud cover. Observations include information ...
20050520 May 20, 2005 3Operating
Earth NPOESS
The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is a satellite system used to monitor global environmental conditions, and collect and disseminate data related to weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and near-space environment. This mission is part of the GOES/POES program.
20140331 March 31, 2014 2Development
Earth OCO
OCO provided space-based observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal human-initiated driver of climate change. This mission used mature technologies to address NASA's highest priority carbon cycle measurement requirement. OCO generated precise global maps of the abundance of CO2 ...
20090224 February 24, 2009 4Past
Earth OCO-2
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory -2 (OCO-2) is based on the original OCO mission that was developed under the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on February 24, 2009. Before spacecraft separation, ...
20140702 July 2014 3Operating
Earth OCO-3
Orbiting Carbon Observatory – 3 (OCO-3) is a complete stand-alone payload built using the spare OCO-2 flight instrument, with additional elements added to accommodate installation and operation on the International Space Station (ISS).
20161215 December 2016 2Development
Earth Operation IceBridge
Operation IceBridge is a six-year airborne campaign designed to capture geophysical measurements of changes in polar ice sheets and sea ice during a gap in the space-based observations of ICESat and ICESat-2.
20091015 October 15, 2009 3Operating
Earth OSTM
OSTM measures sea surface height to an accuracy of < 3.3 cm every ten days. Sea surface topography measured by satellite altimeters has numerous applications important to global environmental monitoring including predicting hurricane intensification, improving tide models, mapping deep ocean ...
20080620 June 20, 2008 3Operating
Earth QuikSCAT
QuikSCAT mission is intended to record sea-surface wind speed and direction data under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. QuikSCAT was initiated as a "quick recovery" mission to help reduce the ocean-wind vector data gap created by the ...
19990619 June 19, 1999 3Operating
Earth RADARSAT-1
Canada's Radarsat is a radar satellite featuring variable resolution, and different view angles at a number of preset positions.
19951104 November 04, 1995 3Operating
Earth SAGE III - ISS
The SAGE III instrument is used to study ozone, a gas found in the upper atmosphere that acts as Earth’s sunscreen.
20140725 2014 2Development
Earth SAGE III – Meteor-3M
The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III – Meteor-3M (SAGE III – Meteor-3M) was an Earth Observing System (EOS) - joint mission between the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Russian Space Agency (RSA). The SAGE III ...
20011210 December 10, 2001 4Past
Earth Seasat 1
The Ocean Dynamics Satellite (Seasat 1) was designed to provide measurements of sea-surface winds, sea-surface temperatures, wave heights, internal waves, atmospheric liquid water content, sea ice features, ocean features, ocean topography, and the marine geoid.
19780627 June 27, 1978 4Past
Earth SeaWiFS
The SeaStar satellite carries the SeaWiFS instrument which is designed to monitor the color of the world's oceans. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions program.
19970801 August 01, 1997 4Past
Earth SeaWinds (ADEOS II)
The SeaWinds scatterometer is a specialized microwave radar that measures near-surface wind velocity (both speed and direction) under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. This is a twin sister to the QuikSCAT sensor and flies on the Japanese ...
20021214 December 14, 2002 3Operating
Earth SIR-C
Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR), part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, was studying how our global environment is changing. From the unique vantage point of space, the radar system observed, monitored and assessed large-scale environmental processes with a focus on ...
19940419 April 19, 1994 4Past
Earth SMAP
The Soil Moisture Active-Passive (SMAP) will use a combined radiometer and high-resolution radar to measure surface soil moisture and freeze-thaw state, providing for scientific advances and societal benefits. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions program.
20141030 October 2014 2Development
Earth SMS
The Synchronous Meterological Satellites were the first operational spacecrafts to sense meteorological conditions from a fixed location. They carried instrumentation for visible and international remote imaging, collection of data from automated remote platforms, relay of weather products (WEFAX), and measurement ...
19740517 May 17, 1974 4Past
Earth SORCE
SORCE is a NASA-sponsored satellite mission that will provide state-of-the-art measurements of incoming x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and total solar radiation. The measurements provided by SORCE specifically address long-term climate change, natural variability and enhanced climate prediction, and atmospheric ozone ...
20030125 January 25, 2003 3Operating
Earth SRTM
The goal of SRTM, a joint project of NASA, NIMA, and the German and Italian space agencies, was to map the world in three dimensions. In its 11-day mission on STS-99 in February 2000, SRTM collected an unprecedented 8.6 Terabytes ...
20000211 February 11, 2000 4Past
Earth Suomi NPP
Suomi NPP is a joint mission to extend key measurements in support of long term monitoring of climate trends and of global biological productivity. This mission is part of SMD's Earth Systematic Missions program.
20111025 October 25, 2011 3Operating
Earth SWOT
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will contribute to a better understanding of the world's oceans and its terrestrial surface waters.
20200101 2020 1Under Study
Earth TEMPO
TEMPO measures pollution of North America, from Mexico City to the Canadian tar/oil sands, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific hourly and at high spatial resolution. TEMPO’s measurements from geostationary orbit (GEO) of tropospheric ozone, aerosols, their precursors, and ...
20130901 2013 1Under Study
Earth Terra
Terra (formerly EOS AM-1) is the flagship satellite of NASA's Earth observing systems. Terra is the first EOS (Earth Observing System) platform and provides global data on the state of the atmosphere, land, and oceans, as well as their interactions ...
19991218 December 18, 1999 3Operating
Earth TERRIERS
TERRIERS was a very small "University-class" Explorer intended to study a number of ionospheric and thermospheric phenomena, and test the utility of long term solar EUV (extreme ultraviolet) irradiance measurements.
19990518 May 18, 1999 4Past
Earth TIROS
TIROS spacecraft were the beginning of a long series of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. The objective was to establish a global weather satellite system.
19600401 April 01, 1960 4Past
Earth TOMS-EP
The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, launched in July 1996 onboard an Earth Probe Satellite (TOMS/EP), continues NASA's long-term daily mapping of the global distribution of the Earth's atmospheric ozone. This NASA-developed instrument, measures ozone indirectly by mapping ultraviolet light emitted ...
19960702 July 02, 1996 4Past
Earth TOPEX/Poseidon
TOPEX/Poseidon monitored global ocean circulation, improved global climate predictions, and tracked El Niño conditions and ocean eddies. The mission's most important achievement was to determine the patterns of ocean circulation - how heat stored in the ocean moves from one ...
19920810 August 10, 1992 4Past
Earth TRMM
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan. TRMM is particularly devoted to determining rainfall in the tropics and subtropics of the Earth. These regions make up about two thirds of the ...
19971127 November 27, 1997 3Operating
Earth UARS
Launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery on September 15, 1991, UARS orbited the Earth more than 78,000 times, using 10 onboard scientific instruments to collect data on a variety of chemicals, including carbon dioxide, ozone, chlorine, methane, nitrogen oxides and ...
19910912 September 12, 1991 4Past