Like orbiting sentinels, NASA’s Earth-observing satellites vigilantly monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points in orbit. This animation shows the orbits of all of the current satellite missions. The flight paths are based on actual orbital elements. These missions—many joint with other nations and/or agencies—are able to collect global measurements of rainfall, solar irradiance, clouds, sea surface height, ocean salinity, and other aspects of the environment. Together, these measurements help scientists better diagnose the “health” of the Earth system.
This animation will be regularly updated to show the orbits of the current earth observing fleet.
This most recent version, published in March 2014 includes the recently launched GPM satellite and removes Jason-1 which was decommissioned in 2013.
Previous versions from recent years include:
entry 4274 a February 2015 version including SMAP
entry 3996 a spring 2014 version including GPM
entry 4070 a May 2013 version which added Landsat-8
entry 3892 a Dec 2011 version which added Suomi NPP and Aquarius
entry 3725 a version from June 2010