Terra Spacecraft (originally called EOS AM-1), representing a key contribution by NASAto the U.S. Global Change Research Pro-gram. Terra is the flagship in a series ofEOS spacecraft. Terra carries five state-of-the-art instrument sets with measurementand accuracy capabilities never flownbefore, enabling it to observe the cycling ofwater, trace gases, energy, and nutrientsthroughout the Earth’s climate system.This comprehensive approach to datacollection enables scientists to study theinteractions among the four spheres of theEarth system – the oceans, lands, atmo-sphere, and biosphere.Terra simultaneously will studyclouds, water vapor, small particles in theatmosphere (called “aerosol” particles),trace gases, land surface and oceanicproperties, as well as the interaction be-tween them and their effect on the Earth’senergy budget and climate. Moreover,Terra will observe changes in the Earth’sradiation energy budget - which is theamount of incoming energy from the sunminus outgoing energy from reflectedsunlight and emitted heat. If we are tosucceed in building predictive computermodels of these complex interactions, wemust clearly comprehend global climaticprocesses and parameters. The Terra teamestimates that it will complete the first Earthsystem models within five years afterlaunch.
NASA’s Goddard Space FlightCenter, Greenbelt, Md., provided thespacecraft or “bus” and one instrument(MODIS). Under Goddard management,Lockheed Martin assembled and tested theTerra spacecraft at its production facility inValley Forge, Pa.A polar-orbiting spacecraft, Terra isscheduled for launch in late of 1999 aboardan Atlas IIAS launch vehicle fromVandenberg Air force Base, Calif. Synchro-nized with the sun, Terra’s descending orbitwill cross the equator at 10:30 a.m. localtime during each orbit—hence the originalterm “AM.” Clouds typically form over tropi-cal land in the afternoon as the surfacewarms, creating updrafts; hence, Terra’smorning view will provide clearer images ofthe Earth’s lands. The satellite will orbit theEarth once every 99 minutes at an inclina-tion of 98 degrees relative to the equator, ata mean altitude of 438 nautical miles (705kilometers). Over the tropical oceans, thereare fewer clouds in the afternoon. Terra willbe followed by its “PM” spacecraft counter-part in the year 2000. EOS PM-1 will fly inan
orbit with a 1:30 p.m. equato-rial crossing time, thus complementing andextending Terra’s measurement capabilities.Terra is a joint project between theUnited States, Japan, and Canada. The U.S.provided the spacecraft and three instru-ments developed by NASA Field Centers—the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant EnergySystem (CERES), the Multi-angle ImagingSpectroRadiometer (MISR), and the Moder-ate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer(MODIS). Langley Research Center, Hamp-ton, Va. provided two CERES units, the JetPropulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,provided MISR, and Goddard Space FlightCenter provided the MODIS instrument. TheJapanese Ministry of International Trade andIndustry provided the Advanced SpaceborneThermal Emission and Reflection Radiom-eter (ASTER). The Canadian Space Agencyprovided an instrument called Measure-ments of Pollution In The Troposphere(MOPITT).NASA’s Kennedy Space Center,Fla., will conduct launch operations usingthe Atlas launch vehicle under a contract