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Current Missions - Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer

Launch: December 18, 1999
Purpose: Earth imaging


The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) is an imaging instrument that is flying on NASA's Terra satellite as part of the space agency's Earth Observing System. It is designed to obtain high-resolution global, regional and local images of Earth in 14 color bands.

ASTER is the only high-resolution instrument on Terra. It is used with four other instruments on the satellite which monitor Earth at moderate to coarse spatial resolutions. ASTER's ability to serve as a zoom lens for the other instruments is useful in a variety of land surface studies.

The instrument actually consists of three separate subsystems, each of which has its own telescope or telescopes and which views Earth in a different part of the energy spectrum. One of them sees Earth in the visible and near-infrared, while a second views in the shortwave infrared and the third in the thermal infrared.

The ASTER instrument was provided by Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, and each of the three subsystems was built by a different company in Japan. JPL is responsible for the American side of the joint U.S.-Japan science team.

The Terra satellite was launched December 18, 1999, from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Terra mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

For more information, see the ASTER home page.

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