NASA’s Terra satellite celebrates 100,000 orbits

More than 400 miles above Earth, a satellite the size of a school bus is earning its frequent flyer miles. On Oct. 6, NASA’s Terra completed 100,000 orbits around Earth. Terra joins a handful of satellites to mark this orbital milestone, including the International Space Station, Earth’s Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS), Landsat 5 and Landsat 7. Terra, which launched Dec. 18, 1999, is projected to continue operation into the 2020s.

Members of the Terra design team stand in front of a true-to-size model of the satellite in the mid-1990s. Credit: courtesy of Dick Quinn

The five scientific instruments onboard Terra provide long-term value for advancing scientific understanding of our planet — one of the longest running climate satellite data records — and yield immediate benefits in such areas as public health. For example, recently scientists analyzed 15 years of pollution data in California, collected by the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) instrument, and discovered that the state’s clean air programs have been successful in reducing particle pollution. More urgently, data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER) and MISR provided crucial information about the air quality and land change conditions around Hawaii’s erupting

Original Title: NASA's Terra satellite celebrates 100,000 orbits
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