David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington (Phone: 202/358-1730)

July 31, 2002

Cynthia M. O'Carroll Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/614-5563) RELEASE: 02-144 SEAWIFS SENSOR MARKS FIVE YEARS DOCUMENTING EARTH'S DYNAMIC BIOSPHERE In the last five years, scientists have been able to monitor our changing planet in ways never before possible. The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), aboard the OrbView-2 satellite, has given researchers an unprecedented view of the biological engine that drives life on Earth -- the countless forms of plants that cover the land and fill the oceans. "There is no question the Earth is changing. SeaWiFS has enabled us, for the first time, to monitor the biological consequences of that change -- to see how the things we do, as well as natural variability, affect the Earth's ability to support life," said Gene Carl Feldman, SeaWiFS project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. SeaWiFS data, based on continuous daily global observations, have helped scientists make a more accurate assessment of the oceans' role in the global carbon cycle. The data provide a key parameter in a number of ecological and environmental studies as well as global climate-change modeling. The images of the Earth's changing land, ocean and atmosphere from SeaWiFS have documented many previously unrecognized phenomena. SeaWiFS has supported a large number of educational and environmental programs. The SeaWiFS record also marks the first time the abundance of terrestrial and oceanic vegetation has been measured globally by a single instrument, making this the most complete and consistent data set available. The five-year record from SeaWiFS provides a new baseline measurement for global

photosynthesis, the primary pathway through which carbon enters the Earth's biosphere. NASA plans to continue this biological record using observations from Terra, launched in December 1999, and Aqua, launched in May 2002. These satellites allow U.S. scientists to examine practically every aspect of Earth's atmosphere, oceans and continents from space in an unprecedented way. SeaWiFS was launched August 1, 1997, and has been continually collecting data since September 18, 1997. The sensor is carried on the OrbView-2 spacecraft, operated by Orbital Imaging Corporation (ORBIMAGE) of Dulles, Va. NASA acquires SeaWiFS data through an innovative commercial data-purchase partnership with ORBIMAGE. Research on the Earth's biosphere using SeaWiFS and other space-based capabilities is conducted by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise to better understand and protect our home planet. Additional information is available on the Internet at: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020731seawifs.html http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov -end-