This picture shows what the AIM spacecraft may look like taking measurements of the mesosphere while orbiting Earth.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA (Hampton University)
Space Missions to study Earth's Atmosphere & Climate
Satellites that orbit Earth help us study Earth's atmosphere, weather, and
climate. Here are a few of the many spacecraft that study our atmosphere.
Aura was launched 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 Earth's plasmasphere since
March 2000. Polar, which was launched in 1996, observes aurora and
the polar magnetosphere. UARS
(Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) was launched from the space shuttle in
1991. UARS studies many aspects of the atmosphere, especially chemistry in the
middle and upper stratosphere.
UARS is old, and only half of its instruments are still working; but it has gathered
lots of valuable data over the years.
More satellites will be launched in the future to study the atmosphere. COSMIC
(Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere & Climate) is a
group of satellites that will be launched in the spring of 2005. COSMIC will
gather data about temperature and humidity in many places around the world
and at many different heights in the atmosphere. AIM (Aeronomy
of Ice in the Mesosphere) will be launched in September 2006. AIM will study
changes in the mesosphere by
looking at noctilucent clouds.
Some older missions that studied the atmosphere have ended. SNOE (Student
Nitric Oxide Explorer) studied nitric oxide in the lower thermosphere
from 1998 to 2003.
A series of seven Nimbus satellites, flown from 1964 through 1994, pioneered
many of the instruments and techniques used in atmospheric
observation. Another series of satellites, called GOES (Geostationary Operational
Environmental Satellite), has helped us forecast the weather since GOES-1
was launched in 1975. Two of the spacecraft, GOES-8 and GOES-10, are still in
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, focuses on Earth System science, including articles on student inquiry, differentiated instruction, geomorphic concepts, the rock cycle, and much more!
You might also be interested in:
The Ozone Hole. Pollution. Skin Cancer. Why does the topic of ozone make the news so much? How important is the ozone in our atmosphere? Why are scientists so concerned about its increase near the surface...more
The plasmasphere is a donut-shaped region inside the Earth's magnetosphere. It is basically an extension of the ionosphere, or the topmost part of the Earth's atmosphere. The magnetic field lines of the...more
The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The Earth's magnetic field reaches 36,000 miles into space. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded in a region called the magnetosphere....more
Do you know what the highest clouds in the atmosphere are called? Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC’s), or noctilucent clouds (NLC’s)! The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission will be launched in...more
The thermosphere is a layer of Earth's atmosphere. The thermosphere is directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. It extends from about 90 km (56 miles) to between 500 and 1,000 km (311 to...more
Leaders from 192 countries are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark December 7-18, 2009 to decide how the world will deal with climate change. They are trying to decide how to limit the amount of greenhouse...more
The climate where you live is called regional climate. It is the average weather in a place over more than thirty years. To describe the regional climate of a place, people often tell what the temperatures...more