List of climate research satellites

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The invention of climate research through the use of satellite remote telemetry began in the 1960s through development of space probes to study other planets. During the U.S. economic decline in 1977, with much of NASA's money going toward the Shuttle program, the Reagan Administration proposed to reduce spending on planetary exploration. During this time, new scientific evidence emerged from ice and sediment cores that Earth's climate had experienced rapid changes in temperature, running contrary to the previously held belief that the climate changed on a geological time scale. These changes increased political interest in gathering remote-sensing data on the Earth itself and stimulated the science of climatology.[1]

Name Status Agency Launch Description
ACRIMSAT Contact lost December 2013[2] NASA 1999 studies sun's infrared to ultraviolet output.[1]
Aqua Active NASA 2002 carries six instruments to observe interactions among the four sphere's for earth's systems: oceans, land, atmosphere, and biosphere.[2]
AQUARIUS Active NASA & Space Agency of Argentina 2010 measures salt concentrations in ocean surface needed to understand heat transport and storage in the ocean.[3]
AURA Active NASA 2004 studies earth's ozone, air quality, and climate though observation of composition, chemistry, and dynamics of the atmosphere.[4]
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.[5]
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.[6]
Deep Space Climate Observatory Active NASA 2015[3] To study the Sun-lit side of Earth from the L1 Lagrange point
EarthCARE Active ESA/JAXA 2013 EarthCARE - Study of clouds and aerosols.


Earth Observing-1 (NMP) Active NASA 2001 carrying land-imaging technology, used to demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems for future missions.[8]
Global Precipitation Measurement Active NASA 2014[4] studies global precipitation.[9]
GLORY Launch Failure[5] NASA 2011 studies aerosols, including black carbon, in addition to solar irradiance for the long-term effects.[10]
GOES I - M Active NASA 2001 monitors and forecasts weather for NOAA.[11]
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.[12]
ICESat Active NASA 2003 keeps track of size and thickness of earth's ice sheets.[13]
Jason-1 Active NASA 2001 uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[14]
Jason-2 Active NASA 2008[6] uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[15]
Jason-3 Active NASA 2016[6] uses a radar altimeter to monitor ocean surface height.[16]
LAGEOS 1&2 Active NASA 1976 LAGEOS 1 launched in 1976, LAGEOS 2, launched in 1992 used for orbiting benchmark for geodynamical studies.[17]
Landsat-7 Active NASA 1999 takes digital images of earth's coastal areas with global coverage on a seasonal basis.[18]
Landsat 8 Active NASA 2013[7] takes digital images of earth's coastal areas with global coverage on a seasonal basis.[19]
QuikSCAT Active NASA 1997 monitors weather using bursts of microwaves which measure wind speeds.[20]
SEASTAR (SEAWIFS) Active NASA 1997 designed to monitor the color of earth's oceans.[21][22]
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.[8]
SORCE Active NASA 2003 monitors total output from the sun for understanding of earth's absorption of radiation energy.[23]
TERRA Active NASA/Canada/Japan 1999 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.[24]
TRMM Active NASA 1997 carries give instruments which uses radar and sensors of visible infrared light to closely monitor precipitation.[25]
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.[26]
ICESat-II Active NASA 2015 Measure ice sheet height changes for climate change diagnoses. [27][28]
DESDynI Proposed NASA Measures surface and ice sheet deformation to determine natural hazards of climate.[29]
HyspIRI Proposed NASA Monitors land surface composition for agriculture and mineral characterization for ecosystem health.[30]
ASCENDS Proposed NASA Measures the number density of CO2 in a column of beneath the craft in addition to ambient temperature and pressure.[31]
SWOT Proposed NASA Tracks ocean, lake, river levls.[32]
GEO-CAPE Proposed NASA Monitors atmospheric gas columns for air-quality forecasts.[33]
ACE Proposed NASA Using lidar, creates aerosol and cloud profiles.[34]
LIST Proposed NASA Measure surface topography to look for landslide hazard and water runoffs.[35]
PATH Proposed NASA Performs high-frequency, all-weather and humidity soundings for weather forecastings.[36]
GRACE-II Active NASA 2016 Measures Earth's gravity field in order to track large scale water movement.[37]
SCLP Proposed NASA Measures snow accumulation for fresh water availability.[38]
GACM Proposed NASA Monitors ozone and related gases for intercontinental air quality and stratospheric ozone layer prediction.[39]
3D-Winds Proposed NASA Monitor tropospheric winds for weather forecasting and pollution transport.[40]


  1. ^ Jackson, Randal (2007). "Climate Change: NASA's Role". NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory\California Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. 
  2. ^ "Sun sets for a NASA solar monitoring spacecraft." Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved: 31 January 2017.
  3. ^ "DSCOVR Space Weather Sentinel Reaches Finish Line." Spaceflight Now. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  4. ^ "GPM Launch Information". NASA. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Loss of satellite is 'serious setback' for Earth climate research". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Ocean Surface Topography from Space." Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Landsat Science". NASA. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.
  8. ^ "NASA Soil Moisture Radar Ends Operations, Mission Science Continues." NASA. Retrieved: 21 December 2016.