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Terra-firma images arrive in time for Earth Day

NASA released this satellite image of San Francisco, California, taken by the Terra spacecraft.  
ENN



April 20, 2000
Web posted at: 11:35 a.m. EDT (1535 GMT)

In the nick of time for Earth Day, NASA released its first images Wednesday from Terra, a spacecraft designed to monitor how Earth's atmosphere, lands, oceans, solar radiation and life influence each other.

"Terra is measuring and documenting Earth's vital signs, many of them for the first time," said Yoram Kaufman, a project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Like our taking vital signs to check the state of our own health, this data will help us ... understand our planet, aid in our distinguishing between natural and human-induced changes, and show us how Earth's climate affects the quality of our lives."

Terra carries a payload of five instruments that allow it to measure such things as the moisture content of clouds, vegetation on Earth and sunlight. The combined data will give scientists a better idea of how Earth's components work together as a system.

The images released Wednesday include a measure of "spring greening" across North America and pictures of volcanic ash on Mt. Usu in Japan, which erupted in late March and early April.

The Terra spacecraft recorded aerosols over India, the Himalayas and Tibet.  

Other images range from the sub-continent of India -- which shows relationships between population concentrations, air pollution and vegetation -- to concentrations of carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere.

Scientists believe data from Terra will allow them to build computer models of complex Earth interactions. The first model is due in 2005.

The $1.3 billion Terra spacecraft was launched December 18, 1999 and reached its final orbit in February. The mission is expected to last six years.

NASA says it plans to encourage widespread use of information from Terra to provide citizens, businesses and governments with the means to make informed decisions on issues such as health, safety, economic well-being and quality of life.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved




RELATED STORIES:
Stethoscope in the sky: Terra launched to track Earth's health
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NASA postpones Terra satellite launch until Saturday
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Terra satellite to give Earth a 'checkup'
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RELATED ENN STORIES:
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RELATED SITES:
Terra web site
NASA's Earth Observing System
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ENN's Climate Topic page

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