This view of changes in reflected sunlight at different angles gives scientists a powerful tool to study many different phenomena on Earth's surface and in its atmosphere. It allows them to distinguish, for example, between different types of minute particles in the atmosphere, which scientists call aerosols. It also allows them to study cloud forms and various surface covers on Earth's solid land. Using stereo imaging techniques, they can develop three-dimensional models of Earth's surface and atmosphere.
The instrument, designed and built by JPL, was launched on NASA's Terra satellite on December 18, 1999, from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The imaging instrument was designed for a mission life of six years. The Terra mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Mass: 148 kilograms (326 pounds)
Purpose: Earth imaging
Launch: December 18, 1999