This page will soon feature six videos about the Aqua satellite mission, starting with an introductory video, followed by weekly additions of videos highlighting the AIRS, AMSR-E, MODIS, and CERES instruments, and concluding with a video featuring applications of Aqua data.
One of the primary instruments on NASA's Aqua spacecraft is the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), which is providing a detailed three-dimensional view of the atmosphere. This new view is helping scientists to better understand the climate system and is proving of great value also in several practical applications, including weather forecasting.
From June 2002 to early October 2011, the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) on the Aqua satellite provided a wealth of data about the Earth's water cycle. Among the many variables calculated from AMSR-E data are sea surface temperature, atmospheric water vapor, rainfall, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverages, and snow cover. The AMSR-E data allow the calculation of surface variables under nearly all weather conditions, irrespective of cloud cover and daylight. AMSR-E was provided to NASA's Aqua program by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which also has a follow-on AMSR-2 instrument scheduled to be launched in 2012.
Beautiful images from the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites are used by people all over the world every day. But MODIS is about more than just pretty pictures — the instrument's contributions to science include a better understanding of the Earth's cloud cover, aerosols, phytoplankton levels, and land cover.
Is the heat budget of the planet changing? Thermometers on the ground can give us a snapshot of a summer heatwave or winter cold spell, but it takes something like NASA's CERES instruments to give a long term picture of whether the planet is keeping more of its heat than it loses back into space.