Launch: December 18, 1999
Mass: 148 kilograms (326 pounds)
Purpose: Earth imaging
The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) is a sophisticated
imaging system unlike any other instrument ever flown in space. Instead of viewing
Earth from a single perspective, the instrument collects images from nine widely spaced
angles as the satellite that it rides on glides above Earth.
This view of changes in reflected sunlight at different angles gives scientists a
powerful tool to study many different phenomena on Earth's surface and in its
atmosphere. It allows them to distinguish, for example, between different
types of minute particles in the atmosphere, which scientists call aerosols.
It also allows them to study cloud forms and various surface covers on Earth's
solid land. Using stereo imaging techniques, they can develop three-dimensional
models of Earth's surface and atmosphere.
The instrument, designed and built by JPL, was launched on NASA's Terra satellite
on December 18, 1999, from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The imaging
instrument was designed for a mission life of six years. The Terra mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space
For more information, see the MISR home