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David E.

Steitz
Headquarters, Washington, DC April 19, 2000
(Phone: 202/358-1730)

Allen Kenitzer
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-2806)

RELEASE: 00-62

TERRA SPACECRAFT OPEN FOR BUSINESS

After a picture-perfect launch into space last December,


NASA's premier Earth Observing System Satellite, Terra, has
completed on-orbit checkout and verification and is "open for
business."

Terra, an international mission and part of NASA's Earth


Sciences Enterprise, is opening a new window to the Earth and is
providing daily information on the health of the planet. First
images from the five instruments aboard Terra are being presented
during a press briefing today at NASA Headquarters, Washington,
DC.

Terra is the first satellite to monitor daily -- and on a


global scale -- how the Earth's atmosphere, lands, oceans, solar
radiation and life influence each other. Terra's wide array of
measurements will give a comprehensive evaluation of the Earth as
a system and will establish a new basis for long-term monitoring
of the Earth's climate changes.

"Terra is measuring and documenting the Earth's vital signs,


many of them for the first time," said Dr. Yoram Kaufman, Terra
Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD. "Like our taking vital signs to check the state of
our own health, these data will help us diagnosis several key
aspects of the Earth's health.

"The data will help us understand our planet, aid in our


distinguishing between natural and human-induced changes, and show
us how the Earth's climate affects the quality of our lives."

NASA scientists today revealed several stunning images from


individual Terra sensors of the North American continent shown in
many different layers. Images included global surface
temperatures and "spring greening." Other first images range from
the Indian sub-continent -- showing relationships among population
concentrations, air pollution and vegetation -- to concentrations
of carbon monoxide in the lower atmosphere.

"Terra data, along with other measurements from surface-


based and aircraft instruments, provide much-needed inputs for
Earth science models," Kaufman concluded. "This ultimately will
enable scientists to more accurately predict future climate
change."

Many scientists believe that to successfully build


predictive computer models of complex Earth interactions they must
clearly understand global climatic processes and parameters. The
Terra team estimates that the scientific community will complete
the first Earth-system models making full use of Terra data by
2005.

The Earth Observing System series spacecraft are the


cornerstone of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term
coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global system
and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global
environment. Terra will use its position in space to observe the
Earth's continents, oceans and atmosphere with unprecedented
measurement accuracy and capability. This approach enables
scientists to study the interactions among these three components
of the Earth system, which determine the cycling of water and
nutrients on Earth.

NASA plans to encourage widespread use of Terra information


to allow citizens, businesses and governments to make more
informed decisions on national issues affecting every American --
health and safety, economic well-being, and qualify of life in
communities across the Nation.

The Earth Science Enterprise goal is to expand knowledge of


the Earth system from the unique vantage point of space. Earth
Science Enterprise data, which will be distributed to researchers
worldwide at the cost of reproduction, are critical to informed
environmental decisions.

-end-

NOTE TO EDITORS: Images of Terra's first results can be found on


the Internet at:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov

or

http://terra.nasa.gov