List of Earth observation satellites

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Partial list of Earth observation satellites by series/program.


Scientific research[edit]

Name Status Agency Launch Description
ACRIMSAT Contact lost December 2013[2] NASA 1999 studies sun's infrared to ultraviolet output.
Aqua Active NASA 2002 carries six instruments to observe interactions among the four sphere's for earth's systems: oceans, land, atmosphere, and biosphere.[1]
AQUARIUS Mission ended June 2015 due to satellite power supply failure[3] NASA & Space Agency of Argentina 2011 instrument on board SAC-D spacecraft measured salt concentrations in ocean surface needed to understand heat transport and storage in the ocean.[2]
AURA Active NASA 2004 studies earth's ozone, air quality, and climate though observation of composition, chemistry, and dynamics of the atmosphere.[3]
CALIPSO Active NASA 2006 studies thickness of clouds and aerosols for understanding of how much air pollution is present and changes in compositions in the atmosphere.[4]
CloudSat Active NASA/Canada 2006 monitors the state of earth's atmosphere and weather through radar, which can be used to predict which clouds produce rain, observe snowfall, and monitor the moisture content of clouds.[5]
Deep Space Climate Observatory Active NASA 2015[4] To study the Sun-lit side of Earth from the L1 Lagrange point
EarthCARE Planned ESA/JAXA 2018 EarthCARE - Study of clouds and aerosols.


Earth Observing-1 (NMP) Retired NASA 2001 carrying land-imaging technology, used to demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems for future missions [7]. Retired on 30 March 2017. [5]
Global Precipitation Measurement Active NASA/JAXA 2014[6] studies global precipitation.[8]
GLORY Launch Failure[7] NASA 2011 studies aerosols, including black carbon, in addition to solar irradiance for the long-term effects.[9]
GRACE Active NASA and German Space Agency 2002 observes and measures earth's gravitational field, which may help determining the shape and composition of the planet's distribution of water and ice.[10]
ICESat Active NASA 2003 keeps track of size and thickness of earth's ice sheets.[11]
Jason-1 Active NASA 2001 uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[12]
Jason-2 Active NASA 2008[8] uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[13]
Jason-3 Active NASA 2016[8] uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[14]
LAGEOS 1&2 Active NASA 1976 LAGEOS 1 launched in 1976, LAGEOS 2, launched in 1992 used for orbiting benchmark for geodynamical studies.[15]
QuikSCAT Active NASA 1997 monitors weather using bursts of microwaves which measure wind speeds.[16]
SEASTAR (SEAWIFS) Active NASA 1997 designed to monitor the color of earth's oceans.[17][18]
SMAP Active with partial failure NASA 2015 Measures soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state, which enhance understanding of processes that link water, energy, and carbon cycles to extend the capabilities of weather and climate models. Radar payload failed in July 2015, leaving a radiometer as the primary instrument of the mission.[9]
SORCE Active NASA 2003 monitors total output from the sun for understanding of earth's absorption of radiation energy.[19]
SWOT Planned NASA 2021 Measures sea surface heights and terrestrial water heights.[20]
TERRA Active NASA/Canada/Japan 1990 carries five instruments to observe the state of the atmosphere, land, and oceans, as well as their interactions with solar radiation and with one another.[21]
TRMM Active NASA/JAXA 1997 carries give instruments which uses radar and sensors of visible infrared light to closely monitor precipitation.[22]
CLARREO Proposed NASA Measures spectrally resolved Earth's reflectance and emitted radiation, and radio occultation derived refractivity; establishes on-orbit calibration reference; benchmarks and attributes change of climate.[23]
ICESat-2 Planned NASA 2015 Measure ice sheet height changes for climate change diagnoses. [24][25]

Weather observation and forecasting[edit]

GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite)[edit]

15 Satellites, 3 in operation

Polar Operational Environmental Satellites[edit]

10 Satellites 5 in operation.[10]

Joint Polar Satellite System[edit]

successor to planned National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program

Japan Meteorological Agency[edit]


  • Himawari-9[12] (2016)


Landsat program[edit]


China National Space Administration (CNSA)[edit]

Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)[edit]

Argentina Space Agency (CONAE)[edit]

Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)[edit]

European Space Agency (ESA)[edit]

A full-size model of an Earth observation satellite from ESA, ERS 2.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)[edit]

JAXA (former NASDA)[edit]

Lembaga Penerbangan dan Antariksa Nasional (LAPAN INDONESIA)[edit]

Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC)[edit]



Project Vanguard[edit]

National Academy of Sciences of Republic of Belarus[edit]


Pakistan's SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission)[edit]

Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST)[edit]

Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)[edit]

Swedish National Space Board[edit]

Venezuelan Agency for Space Activities[edit]


11 Geostationary Weather Satellites, 5 in operation:

2 Polar Orbiting Weather Satellites, all in operation:

  • MetOp-A
  • MetOp-B

RADARSAT series[edit]

South Korea[edit]




Meteor series[edit]

FY (Feng Yun) series[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Satellite Constellations from". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  2. ^ "Sun sets for a NASA solar monitoring spacecraft." Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved: 9 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Aquarius end of mission announcement". Gary Lagerloef and Sandra Torrusio. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ "DSCOVR Space Weather Sentinel Reaches Finish Line." Spaceflight Now. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Pioneering Earth Observation Satellite Retired by NASA". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved: 3 April 2017.
  6. ^ "GPM Launch Information". NASA. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Loss of satellite is 'serious setback' for Earth climate research". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Ocean Surface Topography from Space." Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  9. ^ "NASA Soil Moisture Radar Ends Operations, Mission Science Continues." NASA. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  10. ^ "POES Status". Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Meteorological Satellites - Japan Meteorological Agency". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  12. ^ a b "Himawari-8/9". Archived from the original on October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "MTSat 1, 1R (Himawari 6)". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  14. ^ "Internal Waves in the Banda Sea « CIMSS Satellite Blog". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  15. ^ "IRS-P3". Earthnet Online. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  16. ^ "IRS-P2". Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. VSSC. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "IRS-1C/1D (Indian Remote Sensing Satellites-1C/1D)". Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "IRS (Indian Remote Sensing Satellites) - Overview and early LEO Program of ISRO". Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  19. ^ "Göktürk-2". 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 

External links[edit]