NASA’s Fleet of Satel­lites Keep an Eye on Earth

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Snapshot - PHOTO: NASA’S GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CEN­TER/MATTHEW R. RADCLIFF

No planet is bet­ter stud­ied than the one we ac­tu­ally live on. NASA’s fleet of 18 Earth sci­ence mis­sions in space, sup­ported by aircraft, ships and ground ob­ser­va­tions, mea­sure as­pects of the en­vi­ron­ment that touch the lives of every per­son around the world. They study ev­ery­thing from the air we breathe, to rain and snow that pro­vide water for agri­cul­ture and com­mu­ni­ties, to natural dis­as­ters such as droughts and floods, to the oceans, which cover 70 per­cent of Earth’s sur­face and pro­vide food for many peo­ple around the world. Satel­lites and in­stru­ments on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion cir­cle the whole globe, see­ing both where peo­ple live and those re­mote parts of deserts, moun­tains and the vast oceans that are dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble to visit. With in­stru­ments in space, sci­en­tists can get data for the whole globe in de­tail that they can’t get any­where else. This vi­su­al­iza­tion shows the NASA fleet in 2017, from low Earth or­bit all the way out to the DSCOVR satel­lite tak­ing in the mil­lion-mile view.

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