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Terra (satellite)

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Terra (EOS AM-1) is a multi-national NASA scientific research satellite in a Sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth.[1] It is the flagship of the Earth Observing System (EOS). The name "Terra" comes from the Latin word for Earth. A naming contest was held by NASA among U.S. high school students. The winning essay was submitted by Sasha Jones of Brentwood, Missouri. The identifier "AM-1" refers to its orbit, passing over the equator in the morning.

Terra (transparent).png
Terra (EOS AM-1)
Mission type Climate research
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1999-068A
SATCAT no. 25994
Mission duration Elapsed: 18 years, 2 months, 27 days
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer NASA
Launch mass 4,864 kilograms (10,723 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date December 18, 1999, 18:57:39 (1999-12-18UTC18:57:39Z) UTC
Rocket Atlas IIAS AC-141
Launch site Vandenberg SLC-3E
Contractor ILS
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Semi-major axis 7,080.0 kilometers (4,399.3 mi)
Eccentricity 0.0001392
Perigee 708.7 kilometers (440.4 mi)
Apogee 710.6 kilometers (441.5 mi)
Inclination 98.2098°
Period 98.8 minutes
RAAN 251.3130 degrees
Argument of perigee 83.7699 degrees
Mean anomaly 276.3654 degrees
Mean motion 14.57110250
Epoch 25 June 2016, 02:58:27 UTC
Revolution no. 87867
Terra logo.png



The satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 18, 1999, aboard an Atlas IIAS vehicle and began collecting data on February 24, 2000. It was placed into a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 705km, with a 10:30am descending node.


Terra carries a payload of five remote sensors designed to monitor the state of Earth's environment and ongoing changes in its climate system:[2]

  • ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer)[3]
  • CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System)
  • MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer)
  • MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)[4]
  • MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere)[5]

Data from the satellite helps scientists better understand the spread of pollution around the globe. Studies have used instruments on Terra to examine trends in global carbon monoxide and aerosol pollution.[6] The data collected by Terra will ultimately become a new, 15-year global data set.

Malicious cyber activitiesEdit

In June and October 2008 the spacecraft was targeted by hackers who gained unauthorized access to its command and control systems but did not issue any commands.[7]

Gallery of images by TerraEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "NASA: TERRA (EOS AM-1)". Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  2. ^ Maurer, John (November 2001). "Overview of NASA's Terra satellite". (University of Hawai'i). Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  3. ^ Stevens, Nicki F.; Garbeil, Harold; Mouginis-Mark, Peter J. (2004-01-22). "NASA EOS Terra ASTER: Volcanic topographic mapping and capability" (PDF). Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  4. ^ "MODIS Terra Satellite Images". Center for Atmospheric Research: Earth Observatory Laboratory). Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  5. ^ "MEASUREMENTS OF POLLUTION IN THE TROPOSPHERE (MOPITT)". (NESL's Atmospheric Chemistry Division). Archived from the original on 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  6. ^ "NASA's Terra Satellite Tracks Global Pollution". (Goddard Space Flight Center). 2004-05-18. Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  7. ^ "2011 REPORT TO CONGRESS of the U.S.-CHINA ECONOMIC AND SECURITY REVIEW COMMISSION, page 216" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 

External linksEdit