This picture shows how the AIM spacecraft might look when it it goes into space in 2006.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA (Hampton University)
Space Missions to study Earth's Atmosphere & Climate
Some satellites study Earth from space. Some of them study our atmosphere and weather. Some take pictures of clouds. Others use special instruments to
make measurements of temperature, humidity, or the types of gases in the atmosphere.
Aura is a satellite that blasted off in July 2004. It is studying pollution,
gases that may
be related to climate change, and ozone.
IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) has been in space
studying the plasmasphere since
March 2000. Polar was launched in 1996. Polar looks at the aurora and
the magnetosphere. UARS
(Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) is an older satellite that has been in
1991. Some of its instruments have stopped working, but others are still good.
UARS studies the chemistry in
Some satellites for studying weather will be launched in the years ahead.
COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere & Climate)
is a group of satellites that will be blast off in 2005. They will gather data
about temperature and humidity in the atmosphere. AIM (Aeronomy
of Ice in the Mesosphere) will study noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere.
AIM's mission will start in 2006.
Some older satellites don't work any more, but made important measurements
when they were working. SNOE (Student
Nitric Oxide Explorer) studied the gas nitric oxide in the thermosphere from
1998 to 2003. Seven Nimbus satellites, which flew between 1964 through
1994, made many measurements of the atmosphere. A bunch of satellites, called
GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite), have helped with
weather predictions since 1975. Most GOES have stopped working, but GOES-8
and GOES-10 are still on the job.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!Cool It!
is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
Have you ever heard of ozone? That's a word that shows up in the news a lot! Do you know what ozone is and why it is important in the Earth's atmosphere? Ozone is made of three oxygen atoms (O3). You've...more
You may have heard your teacher talk about the 4 states of matter. Do you remember what they are? Solids (like your desk), liquids (like the milk you pour in your cereal), gases (like the air you blow...more
The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere keeps most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar...more
Do you know what the highest clouds in the atmosphere are called? Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC’s)! These are very special clouds that form about 50 miles above the Earth! They are called Polar because...more
The thermosphere is the fourth layer of the Earth's atmosphere. It is found above the mesosphere. The air is really thin that high up. The temperature changes with the solar activity. If the sun is active,...more
Leaders from the countries of the world are heading to Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009 to decide how the world will deal with climate change. They will make decisions about how to send less greenhouse...more
How do you know to pack your bathing suit and sunhat for a trip to a tropical island or pack warm sweaters and coats for a trip to Alaska? If you know a little about regional climates, then you know what...more