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Operating

Operating Earth missions actively make measurements and send raw data to operation centers that process the data and make them available for archive and distribution at Earth science data centers. Missions are designed to operate for a lifetime on orbit ranging from one to several years. This defines the primary operational phase of the mission.

Missions that are still functional at the end of their primary operational phase undergo a senior review process at NASA Headquarters. A Senior Review Panel is convened to evaluate the scientific performance of each mission and the continued relevance of each mission to the NASA Science Strategic Plan. Performance factors include scientific merit, national needs, the technical status of the mission, and budget efficiency. Missions that pass the senior review process may then be extended beyond their primary operational phase into an extended operational phase.

Senior Reviews for Earth Operating Missions:

The table below lists all operating Earth missions.

*Sort missions by clicking the column headers.

DivisionNameLaunch DatePhase
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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