Minimize Aqua

Aqua Mission (EOS/PM-1)

Spacecraft     Launch    Mission Status     Sensor Complement    References

The Aqua mission is a part of the NASA's international Earth Observing System (EOS). Aqua was formerly named EOS/PM-1, signifying its afternoon equatorial crossing time. NASA renamed the EOS/PM-1 satellite to Aqua on Oct. 18, 1999. The Aqua mission is part of NASA's ESE (Earth Science Enterprise) program. 1) 2) 3)

The focus of the Aqua mission is the multi-disciplinary study of the Earth's water cycle, including the interrelated processes (atmosphere, oceans, and land surface) and their relationship to Earth system changes. The data sets of Aqua provide information on cloud formation, precipitation, and radiative properties, air-sea fluxes of energy, carbon, and moisture (AIRS, AMSU, AMSR-E, HSB, CERES, MODIS); and sea ice concentrations and extents (AMSR-E).

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Figure 1: Illustration of the Aqua satellite (image credit: NASA)

Spacecraft:

The Aqua spacecraft is based on TRW's modular, standardized AB1200 bus design (also referred to as T-330 platform) with common subsystems (Note: Northrop Grumman purchased TRW in Dec. 2002). The satellite dimensions are: 2.68 m x 2.47 m x 6.49 m (stowed) and 4.81 m x 16.70 m x 8.04 m (deployed). Aqua is three-axis stabilized, with a total mass of 2,934 kg at launch, S/C mass of 1,750 kg, payload mass =1,082 kg, propellant mass = 102 kg; power = 4.86 kW (EOL). Propulsion: hydrazine blow-down system; 4 pairs of thrusters. The design life is six years.

RF communications: X-band, S-band (TDRSS and Deep Space Network/Ground Network compatible). All communications are based on CCSDS protocols. Like the Terra mission, Aqua provides various means of payload data downlinks, among them Direct Broadcast (DB).

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Figure 2: The Aqua spacecraft in launch preparation at VAFB (image credit: NASA)

 

Launch: The Aqua spacecraft was launched on May 4, 2002 with a Delta-2 7920-10L vehicle from VAFB, CA. Aqua is the second satellite in NASA's series of EOS spacecraft. - Aura, the third of the three large satellites in the EOS series, was launched in July 2004 and is lined up behind Aqua, in the same orbit.

Orbit: Sun-synchronous circular orbit, altitude = 705 km (nominal), inclination = 98.2º, local equator crossing at 13:30 (1:30 PM) on ascending node, period = 98.8 minutes, the repeat cycle is 16 days (233 orbits).

The Aqua spacecraft is part of the "A-train" (Aqua in the lead and Aura at the tail, the nominal separation between Aqua and Aura is about 15 minutes) or "afternoon constellation" (a loose formation flight which started sometime after the Aura launch July 15, 2004). The objective is to coordinate observations and to provide a coincident set of data on aerosol and cloud properties, radiative fluxes and atmospheric state essential for accurate quantification of aerosol and cloud radiative effects.

The PARASOL spacecraft of CNES (launch on Dec. 18, 2004) is part of the A-train as of February 2005. The OCO mission (launch in 2009) will be the newest member of the A-train. Once completed, the A-train will be led by OCO, followed by Aqua, then CloudSat, CALIPSO, PARASOL, and, in the rear, Aura. 4)

Note: The OCO (Orbiting Carbon Observatory) spacecraft experienced a launch failure on Feb. 24, 2009 - hence, it is not part of the A-train.

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Figure 3: Illustration of Aqua in the A-train (image credit: NASA)

 


 

Mission status:

• January 3, 2017: It may not be obvious to the naked eye, but events on Earth's surface — such as a burning fire or a floating iceberg — can affect the development and shape of clouds in the sky. The connection stems from how these events influence the rise and fall of air masses. 5)

- In general, clouds form where the air is ascending. Air cools as it rises, and because cold air holds less water, it quickly saturates and reaches the point of condensation as it cools in the atmosphere. The most common way to get moist air masses to rise is to heat the ground with sunlight. But the energy to lift air can come from other sources too, such as from the heat of a volcano or a fire (Figure 4).

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Figure 4: Energy from the Sun-warmed ground is not the only way to get air masses to lift, cool, and form clouds. That energy can also come from the heat of a volcano or, in this case, fire. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud on August 5, 2014, south of Yellowknife, Canada (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, images by Joshua Stevens and Jeff Schmaltz, using MODIS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

Legend to Figure 4: Pyrocumulonimbus and pyrocumulus clouds — sometimes called "fire clouds" — are tall, cauliflower-shaped clouds that show up in satellite imagery as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke. With the exception of their fiery origin, pyrocumulus clouds are similar to cumulus clouds in structure. The image of Figure 4 is taken from the feature: "A Celebration of Clouds". 6)

- While cloud growth favors ascending air, the converse also applies. Clouds generally fail to form where the air is descending. On June 1, 2016, VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this image (Figure 5) of a void in the low stratus clouds over iceberg A-56 as it drifted in the South Atlantic Ocean (Ref. 5).

- The exact reason for the hole is somewhat of a mystery. It could have happened by chance, although imagery from the days before and after this date suggest something else was at work. Steve Palm, a research meteorologist at NASA/GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center), thinks the iceberg could have disrupted the air flow or modified the atmosphere in such a way to cause the clouds nearby to dissipate. If an obstacle is large enough, it can divert the flow of low-level air around it. At the same time, air above and downstream of the obstacle converges and sinks.

- "The sinking motion warms and dries out the air, causing a hole in the clouds," Palm said. "It is a common phenomenon often caused by islands."

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Figure 5: VIIRS on Suomi-NPP captured this image on June 1, 2016 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, images by Joshua Stevens and Jeff Schmaltz, caption by Kathryn Hansen)

• December 20, 2016: In the middle of most ocean basins, far from nutrient-laden coastal upwelling and river outflows, life is sparse. Few fish reside here, and even the smaller lifeforms like phytoplankton are few and far between. — Coral islands, however, buzz with aquatic activity. Particularly in the vast Pacific Ocean, it is as though these islands have a life-sustaining halo extending dozens of kilometers and invigorating otherwise barren waters. A recent study published in Nature Communications shows that coral reefs and atolls seem to provide enough nutrients to sustain biological hot spots far beyond their immediate vicinity. 7) 8) 9)

- Scientists have long known of the "island mass effect," (IME)—when the qualities of ecologically productive islands extend into nutrient-depleted waters. But they did not know just how prevalent the effect was, or just how much credit to give phytoplankton for injecting life into surrounding areas. The study found that the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of coral reef islands and atolls raise biological diversity in the ocean around them. In fact, there is an average of 86 percent more phytoplankton on the outer fringes of these reefs than would otherwise be expected.

- "There's been sort of a longstanding paradox in how island reef ecosystems are so productive when their surrounding environment isn't," said Jamison Gove, lead author of the paper and research oceanographer in NOAA's Ecosystems and Oceanography Division. The field of study is roughly 60 years old, "But this is the first research to show that IME is a ubiquitous phenomenon."

- The swath of green at the equator (Figure 6) is an area of ocean upwelling known as the equatorial cold tongue, and it brings colder, nutrient-rich water from the depths to the surface. At the northeastern tip of Australia, there is another thick lip of green. However, the strong signal here may be due in part to bottom reflectance in shallow waters, which appears similar to chlorophyll by satellites. (Authors accounted for reflectance in the study area.)

- In many ways, the island mass effect resembles larger ocean upwelling events. When ocean currents and waves encounter an island, they flow around it, and deep, nutrient-rich water is jolted upward in currents. This stirring of the water column fosters biological activity. Such hot spots (shown in green) appear around the majority of islands in the Pacific, indicating high chlorophyll values in these places.

- Activity around the Gilbert Islands stands out. The islands themselves are far smaller than the green splotches surrounding them. The abundance of phytoplankton indirectly indicates the presence of other aquatic life as well—including squid, small fish, and larger predators like tuna—that consume phytoplankton or each other.

- By extension, people rely on those microscopic plankton for their food, Gove said. "The more we understand productivity in these ecosystems, the more we can think about future changes and how these communities stand to benefit or not as the climate changes."

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Figure 6: The image depicts sea surface chlorophyll in the Pacific Ocean between July 2002 and June 2012. The map was made using data acquired by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on NASA's Aqua satellite. Green areas correlate to higher chlorophyll (in milligram/m3), an indication of blooming phytoplankton. Blue areas indicate lower concentrations of chlorophyll and phytoplankton (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory map by Joshua Stevens, using chlorophyll data courtesy of Jamison Gove/Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and Gove, Jamison M., et al. (2016), caption by Pola Lem)

• On December 12, 2016, the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of dust over the Arabian Sea. The vortex of clouds and dust is rotating in a direction dictated by Earth's rotation. In the Northern Hemisphere, this cyclonic rotation is counter-clockwise when looking down from space. 10)

- The dust arrived over the sea with a mass of warm desert air—a condition known to suppress cloud formation. It is possible that the warm, dry center of the vortex had not mixed much with the moist marine air surrounding it. The edges of the vortex may have mixed more with the marine air, giving rise to shallow, isolated cumulus clouds.

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Figure 7: MODIS natural color image of dust over the Arabian Sea, acquired on Dec. 12, 2016 [image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA/GSFC, caption by Kathryn Hansen with image interpretation by Andrew Ackerman (NASA/GISS) and Toshihisa Matsui (NASA/GSFC)]

• November 1, 2016: There is more than one way for iron to get into the central Gulf of Alaska, but none rival the visual spectacle of wind-blown plumes of dust from from Alaska's Copper River Valley. MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on Aqua and Terra captured the image of Figure 8 in October 2016. 11)

- Much of the dust is comprised of "glacial flour" or "rock flour"—a silty powder with grains finer than sand. This iron- and feldspar-rich substance forms when glaciers grind against underlying bedrock. Winds tend to loft it in the fall when river levels are low and snow has not yet fallen.

- While coastal waters in this part of Alaska have relatively high levels of iron, the micronutrient tends to be in short supply in deeper waters in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska. Soluble iron is an essential nutrient in marine ecosystems because phytoplankton—which sit at the center of marine food webs—depend on it to develop. These floating microscopic plant-like organisms are eaten, in turn, by everything from zooplankton to whales. So an ocean without much phytoplankton is often an ocean without much life at all.

- Dust storms play a key role in fueling phytoplankton blooms by delivering iron to the Gulf of Alaska. Even a small addition of iron there can spur a bloom, explained Santiago Gassó, a scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center who is monitoring the current dust storm.

- While Gassó and other scientists will be using satellites to keep an eye out for phytoplankton blooms in the coming days, there is no guarantee that they will see one. "It is early winter in Alaska, so there may not be enough phytoplankton still alive (or not yet dormant) to trigger a response," Gassó said. It is also possible that a bloom may occur, but that satellites will miss it because of cloud cover.

- While the relationship between iron and phytoplankton is understood in broad terms, there are many details about the process in the Gulf of Alaska that are still unknown. For instance, what happens to iron that does not get used quickly? It may remain near the surface all winter and promote phytoplankton blooms in the spring, when more light is available. Or it may just sink.

- To help clarify the role of dust storms, a small team of NASA-funded scientists, including Gassó, have been studying the area since 2011 with satellites and with ground-based air monitors on Middleton Island. The island sits right in the middle of many dust plumes streaming from the Copper River delta. "I don't think people realize that Middleton Island is one of the best places in the world to study the natural ocean fertilization by wind-blown dust," said Gassó.

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Figure 8: MODIS images on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites captured these images on October 23, 24, and 25, 2016 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, image by Jeff Schmalz)

• Sept. 24, 2016: In mid-September 2016, wildfires continued to burn in Siberia (Figure 9) amid what has been an active fire season for the region. These fires are the latest in an active fire season. In late June 2016, satellites showed wildfires between the Russian cities of Miryuga and Koyumba, roughly 160 km east of the current flames. 12)

- The map of Figure 10 shows the concentration of aerosols over Russia on September 18 as detected by the OMPS (Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite) on the Suomi-NPP satellite. High concentrations are represented with shades of deep red; the lowest concentrations are shades of light yellow.

- Other data revealed that smoke from the fires was lofted high into the atmosphere. On September 20, the CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) satellite, which can detect the altitude of ash clouds, indicated that the tops of the smoke plumes reached an altitude of 9 km.

- An image of the same region acquired a few days earlier shows the smoke moving toward the southwest near the town of Ust'-Kut, Russia. A smoky haze filled the sky, and flakes of ash from the fire fell over the town, according to a local news report. The report also noted that employees of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline (which passes through the area) had to be evacuated.

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Figure 9: The natural-color image, acquired on Sept. 18, 2016 by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, shows huge plumes of smoke streaming toward the northwest. Areas in red show where MODIS detected unusually warm temperatures associated with fire (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, image by Jeff Schmaltz)

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Figure 10: Aerosol concentrations over Russia acquired on Sept. 18, 2016 by the OMPS instrument on Suomi-NPP. High concentrations are represented with shades of deep red; the lowest concentrations are shades of light yellow (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, image by Jeff Schmaltz)

• July 26, 2016: Like the Aral Sea (of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), Iran's salty Lake Urmia has shrunk rapidly during the past few decades. As it grows smaller, the lake grows saltier. And as it grows saltier, microscopic organisms are periodically turning the water striking shades of red and orange (Figure 11). 13)

- The color changes have become common in the spring and early summer due to seasonal precipitation and climate patterns. Spring is the wettest season in northwestern Iran, with rainfall usually peaking in April. Snow on nearby mountains within the watershed also melts in the spring. The combination of rain and snowmelt sends a surge of fresh water into Lake Urmia in April and May. By July, the influx of fresh water has tapered off and lake levels begin to drop.

- The fresh water in the spring drives salinity levels down, but the lake generally becomes saltier as summer heat and dryness take hold. That's when the microorganisms show their colors, too. Careful sampling of the water would be required to determine which organisms transformed the lake in 2016, but scientists say there are likely two main groups of organisms involved: a family of algae called Dunaliella and an archaic family of bacteria known as Halobacteriaceae.

- "Previous research suggests that Dunaliella salina is responsible for reddening of Lake Urmia," explained Mohammad Tourian, a scientist at the University of Stuttgart. "In the marine environment, Dunaliella salina appears green; however, in conditions of high salinity and light intensity, the microalgae turns red due to the production of protective carotenoids in the cells."

- Other scientists emphasize the role of Halobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria found in water that is saturated or nearly saturated with salt. These bacteria release a red pigment called bacteriorhodopsin that absorbs light and converts it into energy for the bacteria. When populations of the bacteria are large enough, they can stain bodies of water.

- Note that in July 2016, the color of the lake (and thus salinity levels) appeared to be relatively constant, despite the presence of a highway causeway. While there has been concern that the causeway would make it difficult for water to circulate between the northern and southern arms of the lake—as is the case in the Great Salt Lake of Utah—the effect in Lake Urmia is not nearly as noticeable. The images of Figure 12, captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat-8 on April 20 and July 9, 2016, show part of the causeway before and after the lake's color changed.

- While Lake Urmia has shifted from green to red and back several times in recent years, trends suggest that a red Urmia could become increasingly common. Drought and intensive water diversion for agriculture has been limiting the amount of fresh water reaching the lake. "The lake volume has been decreasing at an alarming rate of 1.03 km3 per year," noted Tourian, who recently analyzed data from several satellites to track how Urmia has changed. "The results from satellite imagery revealed a loss of water extent at an average rate of 220 km2 per year, which indicates that the lake has lost about 70 percent of its surface area over the last 14 years."

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Figure 11: The MODIS instrument on Aqua recently captured a transition in the color of Lake Urmia between April and July 2016. On April 23, (left image) the water was green; by July 18, it was the color of wine. The shoreline is encrusted with salt deposits and appears white. Note that the ring of salt is especially noticeable in July, when water levels were lower (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, images by Joshua Stevens)

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Figure 12: Detail image of Lake Urmia, captured with OLI (Operational Land Imager) of Landsat-8 on April 20 and July 9, 2016 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, images by Joshua Stevens using USGS data)

• June 18, 2016: Dust storms over the Red Sea are not uncommon. This sea, after all, is surrounded by deserts. But sometime atmospheric conditions and topography combine to produce a storm that appears extraordinary in satellite imagery (Figure 13). 14)

- Winds appear to be blowing east-northeast out of Africa. "Although we see transport from the wide coastal area, the plume is especially dense over the Tokar Delta," said Georgiy Stenchikov of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology of Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

- Gaps in near-coastal mountain ranges become pathways through which winds can carry dust and sand from inland areas toward the sea. For example Tokar Gap—located about 50 km inland—funnels winds toward the southeast from June to September. These winds spread dust from the Tokar delta out over the Red Sea and toward the Arabian Peninsula.

- According to Stenchikov, the wind gusts that caused the dust outbreak on June 15 were due to a cold front moving southeast. The front was related to a cyclone centered near the Persian Gulf, and it caused turbulent mixing of air and a series of associated haboobs.

- Scientists have been studying the dust in this area for a number of reasons. In general, dust in cloud-free conditions reflects sunlight and causes radiative cooling of the land and atmosphere. But according to Stenchikov, the effects on the energy balance of the Red Sea have not been well quantified.

- In addition, dust generated over the coastal area is often deposited in the sea. This provides an important nutrient supply to the Red Sea, which otherwise has very low nutrient levels, particularly in its more northern reaches.

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Figure 13: The MODIS instrument of NASA's Aqua satellite acquired this dust storm over the Red Sea on June 15, 2016 at 11:05 UTC (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, image by Jeff Schmaltz)

• March 2016: For a chemical compound that shows up nearly everywhere on the planet, methane still surprises us. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and yet the reasons for why and where it shows up are often a mystery. What we know for sure is that a lot more methane (CH4) has made its way into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Less understood is why the ebb and flow of this gas has changed in recent decades. 15)

- One can find the odorless, transparent gas miles below Earth's surface and miles above it. Methane bubbles up from swamps and rivers, belches from volcanoes, rises from wildfires, and seeps from the guts of cows and termites (where is it made by microbes). Human settlements are awash with the gas. Methane leaks silently from natural gas and oil wells and pipelines, as well as coal mines. It stews in landfills, sewage treatment plants, and rice paddies.

- AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite offers one spaceborne perspective on the methane in Earth's atmosphere. The map of Figure 14 shows global methane concentrations in January 2016 at a pressure of 400 hPa (hectopascal), or roughly 6 km above Earth's surface. Methane concentrations are higher in the northern hemisphere because both natural- and human-caused sources of methane are more abundant there. Since AIRS observed the methane fairly high in the atmosphere, winds may have transported plumes of gas considerable distances from their sources.

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Figure 14: The methane data are from the AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) on the Aqua mission acquired in the period January 1-31, 2016 and from in situ measurements (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, Joshua Stephens)

• March 2, 2016: The Korean peninsula is an ideal laboratory for understanding air quality. Home to about 75 million people, the peninsula sits downwind from several major pollution sources (Figure 15), and also has a few of its own. 16)

- The peninsula lies a few hundred kilometers east of several large, industrialized cities in China that emit pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Winds routinely send plumes of dust from the Taklimakan and Gobi deserts toward the Koreas. And outbreaks of wildfires and crop fires in China and Russia can produce plumes of smoke that make their way into Korean airspace. Meanwhile, the city of Seoul (population 10 million) is a major source of urban pollution. Crop fires are a seasonal occurrence in North Korea. As a result, the air Koreans breathe contains a complex and seasonally changing mixture of gases and particles that can pose problems for human health.

- To gain a better understanding of air pollution in this part of the world, NASA and the Republic of Korea are developing plans for a cooperative field study of air quality in May and June 2016. The KORUS-AQ (Korea U.S.–Air Quality study) will assess air quality across urban, rural, and coastal areas of South Korea using combined observations from aircraft, ground sites, ships, and satellites. The findings are crucial for the development of ground- and space-based instruments, as well as computer models that can provide more accurate air quality assessments for decision-makers.

- "KORUS-AQ is a step forward in an international effort to develop a global air quality observing system," said James Crawford, a lead U.S. scientist on the project from NASA's Langley Research Center. "Both of our countries will be launching geostationary satellites that will join other satellites in a system that includes surface networks, air quality models, and targeted airborne sampling."

- Key science goals include: developing a better understanding of the conditions affecting the vertical distribution of air pollutants; how that distribution relates to cloud cover; what factors govern ozone photochemistry and the formation of aerosols; and how well models represent real atmospheric composition over the Korean peninsula.

- NASA will work with South Korea's National Institute of Environmental Research using a King Air aircraft from Hanseo University, a NASA DC-8 flying laboratory, and a NASA Beechcraft UC-12B King Air. Five South Korean instruments will fly on the DC-8, and one NASA instrument will be onboard the Hanseo aircraft. — The KORUS-AQ team planned the field campaign for spring because April to June is when the Korean peninsula gets its strongest influx of pollution from upwind sources. 17)

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Figure 15: On April 15, 2015, the MODIS instrument on Aqua acquired this image, which shows smoke from fires in China blowing south over the Korean peninsula (image credit: NASA, Jeff Schmalz)

• Feb. 23, 2016: The Aqua spacecraft and its sensor complement (AIRS, AMSU, CERES, MODIS) are operating nominally (in their 14th year on orbit) with a life expectancy into the early 2020s. 18)

• December 7, 2015: JAXA is reporting that it has ended the operation of the AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS) on December 4, 2015. AMSR-E has been operated for over nine years as an onboard device installed on Aqua, after its launch on May 4, 2002. 19)

- On Oct. 4, 2011, the AMSR-E reached its limit to maintain the antenna rotation speed necessary for regular observations (40 rotations per minute), and the radiometer automatically halted its observation and rotation. Further operation of AMSR-E was suspended. JAXA prepared a recovery plan with NASA engineers, and the AMSR-E restarted its observations in a slow rotation mode (2 rpm) on December 4, 2012.

- Although the AMSR-E observation data in slow rotation mode limited to observe sparse areas, it was used for cross-calibration with the AMSR-2 (successor of the AMSR-E) onboard the GCOM-W (Global Change Observation Mission-Water) of JAXA since its launch on May 18, 2012, in order to produce and provide a consistent and long-term dataset between the AMSR-E and AMSR-2, by correcting their differences in sensor properties.

- Now, the AMSR-E instrument reached its limit to maintain the antenna rotation speed necessary for the slow rotation mode of 2 rpm and it automatically halted its observation and rotation on December 4, 2015. As of December, this marks just three years of simultaneous AMSR-E and AMSR-2 operation. Since the project obtained sufficient data necessary for cross-calibration, JAXA decided to complete operation of the AMSR-E at this time.

- The AMSR-2 on GCOM-W has been operating as the successor of the AMSR-E in the same orbit. The AMSR-2 continues the long-term, high-resolution observation of global water cycle variation by the AMSR-E and related operational utilization, which are new fields exploited by the AMSR-E. Moreover, the AMSR-2 contributes on an ongoing basis to both fields of practical application and water cycle/and climate variation research.

• Contributing to practical fields

- The AMSR-E contributed to improving the accuracy of weather forecasts by the JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) as its data was used for numerical weather predictions and for determining the center of a typhoon. The data was also used in the production of daily global sea surface temperature dataset to monitor oceanic conditions on a near-real-time and operational basis.

- The AMSR-E was helpful for more efficient fishing boat operations as the fishing industry information service center and other organizations used the data for compiling information on ocean conditions for fishing.

- The AMSR-E contributed to monitoring of the Sea of Okhotsk by the Japan Coast Guard and the editing of a report on overseas food demand based on a study of global drought conditions by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

- In addition, the AMSR-E was operationally used in numerical weather predictions and the monitoring of meteorological and oceanic phenomena by such organizations as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration),ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts), and CIS (Canadian Ice Service).

• Contributing to water cycle and climate change research

- Through long-term continuous observations of Arctic sea ice, the AMSR-E proved very helpful in understanding the impact of global warming by clarifying the smallest Arctic sea ice area in observation history (at that time) in the summer of 2007, as well as the area's second largest decrease in observation history (at that time) in the summer of 2011.

- Analysis results regarding the shrinkage of the Arctic sea ice extent observed by passive microwave imagers including the AMSR-E were referenced in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I.

- Along with data observed by other satellites, the radiometer's data contributed significantly to the production of global precipitation maps, such as JAXA's GSMaP (Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation ), NASA's TRMM and TMPA (TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis), and NOAA's CMORPH (CPC Morphing Technique), as well as a dataset on global high-resolution sea surface temperature.

- The AMSR-E data also proved very useful for international climate change research.

Table 1: AMSR-E achievements on Aqua

• November 2015: In late October 2015, a 3,726 m volcano on the Indonesian island of Lombok began erupting. In the days that followed, ash from Mount Rinjani blanketed towns and farmland across three Indonesian islands and shut down air traffic to a number of airports. The MODIS instrument of the NASA Aqua and Terra satellites acquired these natural-color images of the plume. Ash drifted westward from Lombok toward Bali and Java. A small segment of eastern Java's coast is visible to the southwest of Bali. 20)

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Figure 16: The Aqua MODIS instrument captured this image of the eruption of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia on Nov. 4, 2015 (image credit: NASA, Jeff Schmaltz)

Spacecraft Bus – Nominal Operations (Excellent Health)

- All Components remain on primary hardware

MODIS – Nominal Operations (Excellent Health)

- All voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected.

- All Components remain on primary hardware.

AIRS – Nominal Operations (<5% of Channels degraded) – (Excellent Health)

- Cooler A Telemetry is frozen since March 28, 2014 to last known value. Not impacting Science

- All other voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected

- ~200 of 2378 channels are degraded due to radiation, however they are still useful.

AMSU-A – Nominal Operations for 12 of 15 Channels (Good Health)

- All voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected

- 3 of 15 channels have been removed from Level 2 processing.

CERES-AFT (FM-3) – Nominal Operations (Excellent Health)

- All voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected

- Cross-Track and Biaxial Modes fully functioning

- All channels remain operational.

CERES-FORE (FM-4) – Nominal Operations (Good Health)

- All voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected

- Cross-Track is Nominal. Biaxial Mode is Nominal when used.

- The Shortwave channel failed on March 30, 2005; the other two channels remain operational.

AMSR-E – Operating at 2 rpm; No Science – Calibration Only (Poor Health)

- All voltages, currents, and temperatures as expected.

- Operating at reduced rotation rate for calibration purposes only

- Plan to spin down to 0 rpm and turn off: December 8, 2015

HSB – Non-operational since February 2003 anomaly.

Table 2: Aqua status summary (as of November 5, 2015) 21)

In June 2015, the NASA Earth Science Senior Review 2015 was submitted to Michael Freilich of NASA. A total of 10 NASA missions were evaluated in extended operations: Aqua, Aquarius, Aura, CALIPSO, CloudSat, EO-1, GRACE, OSTM (Jason-2), SORCE, and Terra. The Aqua missions was recommended to continue through FY 16-17 and FY 18-19. 22)

- The Aqua spacecraft is still going strong after 13 years, and four of its instruments (AIRS, AMSU, CERES, and MODIS) continue to collect valuable data about the atmosphere, oceans, land, and ice. The Panel ranked this mission as the first among those missions reviewed. Based upon Aqua's high quality climate data records, the continuity of this time series is critical for the scientific community, governmental agencies and the international operational user community. Therefore, the Panel found that Aqua mission should be continued as currently baselined.

• The image of Figure 17 was released on March 24, 2015 in NASA's Earth Observatory series. According to ocean color expert Menghua Wang of NOAA, The region of Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and East China is one of the most turbid and dynamic ocean areas in the world. 23)

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Figure 17: The Yellow Sea, pictured here in an image acquired on February 24, 2015, by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Legend to Figure 17: In the image, the brown area along China's Subei Shoal is turbid water commonly seen in coastal regions. According to Wang, shallow water depths, tidal currents, and strong winter winds likely contributed to the mixing of sediment through the water. Some of the swirls in the image might be due to the Yellow Sea Warm Current, which intrudes into the Yellow Sea in wintertime. This branch of the Kuroshio Current changes the temperature of the sea surface and brings instability that could be the cause of the relatively dark swirls in the lower-middle part of the image.

• On Feb. 26, 2015, the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite observed some of that dust starting a trans-Atlantic journey. In Figure 18, vast amounts of dust rise up from Senegal, Mauritania, and Gambia. The plumes are thick and brown, suggesting that he dust is still compact and that it probably arose close to the coast—not from a more distant location in the North African interior. Some of the dust also appears to be settling into the waters just offshore, adding to the darkening effect in the satellite view. A bit farther offshore, the water surface is brightened by sunglint, the reflection of sunlight directly back at the camera from a relatively smooth surface. 24)

Hundreds of millions of tons of sand and dust particles are lifted from North African deserts each year and carried across the Atlantic Ocean. So much dust is kicked up that the microscopic particles amass into sweeping tan plumes that are visible to satellites.

In a new paper published on February 24, 2015, scientists using a NASA satellite announced that they had quantified in three dimensions how much dust makes the trans-Atlantic journey from the Sahara Desert to South America. Scientists not only measured the volume of dust, but they also calculated how much phosphorus—remnant in Saharan sands from the desert's ancient past as a lake bed—gets carried from one of the planet's most desolate places to one of its most fertile. 25)

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Figure 18: Thick dust plumes obscure Africa's coast in this MODIS image acquired on Feb. 26, 2015 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

• August 5, 2014: Algae bloom on Lake Erie (Figure 19). For at least fifty years, phytoplankton and algae blooms have been a regular occurrence in summer on Lake Erie. The microscopic, floating plants generally start to flourish in June and July as the water warms and stratifies, and their numbers typically peak in August and September. But it's not every year that a bloom leads to the shutdown of water supplies in an American or Canadian city. 26)

The dominant organism in the Lake Erie bloom is Microcystis spp., a type of freshwater blue-green algae that produces a toxin harmful to humans. If consumed, Microcystis can cause numbness, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting and lead to liver damage. (In rare cases, it can be deadly.) On August 2, 2014, environmental monitors for Toledo and surrounding towns in northwestern Ohio determined that public water supplies had levels of microcystin toxin that were higher than recommended by the World Health Organization (1.0 parts per billion). They warned residents not to drink or cook with tap water; boiling is not effective against the toxin. Though the bloom has continued, treatment facilities have since added extra filtering steps (including activated carbon), and public water sources were declared safe again on August 4.

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Figure 19: Algae bloom on Lake Erie acquired with the Aqua MODIS instrument on August 3, 2014 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

• July 2, 2014: NASA's Earth Observatory series released two images of the Leeuwin Current, flowing south along Australia's western shore, depicting SST (Sea Surface Temperature) and Chlorophyll Concentration of the region (Figure 20). 27)

 

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Figure 20: The two figures were acquired on June 6, 2014 with MODIS on Aqua and released on July 2, 2014 (image credit: NASA's Earth Observatory series).

Legend to Figure 20: The Leeuwin Current is an oddity, because it flows away from the equator to the pole. Though invisible to the naked eye, the warm current stands out in measurements of the temperature of the ocean's surface (SST), as shown in the left image acquired by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite on June 6, 2014. Warmer water is orange and pink, while cooler water is purple.

The current hugs the coast, curving south and then east with the coastline. It is the world's longest coastal current, extending 5,500 km from the North West Cape to the west coast of Tasmania—roughly equivalent to the distance between San Francisco and Miami.

The heat the current transfers to southern Australia moderates the climate, making it hospitable to marine species normally found much closer to the equator. Its warmth also encourages rain to form and fall over western Australia, saving it from the extreme dryness found on the southwestern shores of the other southern continents. Without the current, western Australia might resemble South America's Atacama desert or southern Africa's Namib desert.

While the current makes southern Australia hospitable, it normally turns the ocean into a desert. The warm water contains limited nutrients to sustain plant life, and it represses upwelling, so surface waters seldom get recharged with nutrients from the ocean floor. Without nutrients, few phytoplankton grow. Since plankton are the base of the food chain, only small populations of fish are able to live in the warm waters.

In the right image of ocean chlorophyll, however, the ocean is clearly in full bloom. Acquired on June 6, 2014, by the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite, the image shows high concentrations of chlorophyll in yellow and lower concentrations in blue. The highest concentrations are aligned with the warmest parts of the current.

If warm water represses phytoplankton growth, why are plankton growing so well here? The answer is related to the current's swirling flow. The Leeuwin Current is extremely prone to eddies and meanders. In the fall, the current intensifies, flowing faster. The stronger eddies stir the water, allowing nutrients to reach the surface and fueling plankton blooms. In the winter, the blooms continue due to cooler temperatures and storms that agitate the water.

• May 17, 2014: The 2014 wildfire season got off to a ferocious start in southern California and northwestern Mexico when record-breaking temperatures and powerful Santa Ana winds fueled at least nine fires between May 14–16. Cal Fire estimated that by the morning of May 16, more than 7,700 hectare had burned, and news reports said that more than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate at various points over the past few days. 28)

- The MODIS instrument on Aqua detected several fires in San Diego County on May 14, 2014 (Figure 21). MODIS also observed large fires burning in the Baja California region of Mexico. Red outlines indicate hot spots where the sensor detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Winds blew thick plumes of smoke west over the Pacific Ocean.

- Drought has plagued the western United States—especially central and southern California—for months, priming vegetation for wildfires. By mid-May, the entire state was classified as being in some level of drought (ranging from severe to exceptional), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. To break the drought, most of the state would need 9 to 15 inches (23 to 38 centimeters) of precipitation to fall in one month, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters estimated. That would amount to more than a half-year's worth of precipitation for most of the state.

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Figure 21: Fires in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, acquired by MODIS on the Aqua spacecraft on May 14, 2014 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Legend to Figure 21: Red outlines indicate hot spots where the satellite's MODIS sensor detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Winds blew thick plumes of smoke west over the Pacific Ocean.

• On April 25, 2014, the MODIS instrument on Aqua observed dozens of fires burning in North Korea. Actively burning areas, detected by the thermal bands on MODIS, are outlined in red. Fields and grasslands appear light brown. Forests at lower elevations appear green; at higher elevations, forests are still brown at this time of year. Collectively, the fires produced enough smoke to send plumes of haze drifting east over the Sea of Japan. 29)

- Many fires appear in farming areas along rivers. While North Korea's best agricultural land is located on the coastal plain in the western part of the country, many people farm marginal land along rivers in the mountainous areas. They use fire to clear debris from last year's crops and to help fertilize the soil for the coming season.

- However, some of the fires were burning in heavily forested areas, suggesting that they might be wildfires. Drooping wires on aging power lines are a common cause of wildfires in North Korea, according to a report published in the Asia-Pacific Journal.

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Figure 22: Actively burning areas, as viewed by NASA's Aqua satellite on April 25, 2014, are outlined in red. Fields and grasslands appear light brown. Forests at lower elevations appear green; at higher elevations, forests are still brown at this time of year (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

• NASA released Figure 23 on April 30, 2014 showing a MODIS image on the Aqua satellite. Off the coast of southwest Africa, ocean currents, winds, and the underwater shelf interact to create compelling biology and chemistry. Plant-like phytoplankton often bloom in the nutrient-rich surface waters, while bacteria on the seafloor consume decaying plant and animal matter and occasionally release gas that bubbles to the surface. 30)

Just off the coast of Namibia, the Benguela Current flows along the ocean surface. It moves north and west along the coast from South Africa and is enriched by iron and other nutrients from the Southern Ocean and from dust blowing off African coastal deserts. Easterly winds push surface waters offshore and promote upwelling near the coast, which brings up cold, nutrient-rich waters from the deeper ocean. These interactions can make the ocean come alive with color.

Near the shore, yellow-green features in the water suggest the presence of sulfur. Studies have described how bacteria in oxygen-depleted bottom waters consume organic matter and produce prodigious amounts of hydrogen sulfide. As that gas bubbles up into more oxygen-rich water, the sulfur precipitates out and floats near the surface. It can give off a potent rotten-egg smell and pose a toxic threat to fish.

Further offshore, milky green water may be a bloom of one or several species of phytoplankton. As countless microscopic, plant-like organisms consume sunlight and nutrients, they also consume oxygen. Oxygen depletion can sometimes become so complete that it creates a "dead zone" that can suffocate other marine species. At the same time, the oxygen-depleted waters help sulfur-producing bacteria to thrive.

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Figure 23: Plankton and Sulfur in the Benguela Current; this MODIS image was acquired on April 10, 2014 (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

• Feb. 2014: The Great Lakes Region of North America is experiencing a bitter cold winter. The true color image of Figure 24 shows the mostly frozen state of the Great Lakes on Feb. 19, 2014. On that date, ice spanned 80.3% of the lakes, according to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 31)

The ice reached an even greater extent on Feb. 13, when it covered about 88% of the Great Lakes – coverage not achieved since 1994, when ice spanned over 90 %. In addition to this year, ice has covered more than 80% of the lakes in only five other years since 1973. The average annual maximum ice extent in that time period is just over 50%. The smallest maximum ice cover occurred in 2002, when only 9.5% of the lakes froze over.

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Figure 24: This image, acquired with MODIS on the Aqua satellite, shows the Great Lakes on Feb. 19, 2014, when ice covered 80.3% of the lakes (image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA)

• The Aqua spacecraft and its payload (except for AMSR-E which operates in a reduced mode) are operating nominally in 2014.

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Figure 25: The Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color satellite image of a plankton bloom on Dec. 30, 2013. The eddy is centered about 600 km off the coast of Australia in the southeastern Indian Ocean (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory) 32)

Legend to Figure 25: In this Aqua/MODIS image, an eddy is outlined by a milky green phytoplankton bloom. Eddies are masses of water that typically spin off of larger currents and rotate in whirlpool-like fashion. They can stretch for hundreds of kilometers and last for months.

While the northern latitudes are bathed in the dull colors and light of mid-winter, the waters of the southern hemisphere are alive with mid-summer blooms. The eddy is centered at roughly 40º South latitude and 120º East longitude, about 600 km off the coast of Australia in the southeastern Indian Ocean.

• Nov. 8, 2013: The typhoon Haiyan was located over the central Philippines and was quickly heading towards the west at 22 knots (25 mph) when Aqua observed the region. 33)

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Figure 26: AIRS image of the super typhoon Haiyan acquired on Nov. 8, 2013 at 04:59 UTC (image credit: NASA/JPL)

Legend to Figure 26: The lowest temperatures, in dark purple, are associated with the high, cold cloud tops of powerful thunderstorms with heavy rainfall potential. The Philippine islands stretch from the center of the image to the northwest. Northern Indonesia is at the bottom of the image, and northeastern Malaysia is at the lower left of the image. Some of the Philippine regions being pounded by the storm, in the area with purple coloring, are the Visayas, Bicol, National Capital, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Northern Mindanao, and Mimaropa regions.

• June 2013: The 2013 Senior Review evaluated 13 NASA satellite missions in extended operations: ACRIMSAT, Aqua, Aura, CALIPSO, CloudSat, EO-1, GRACE, Jason-1, OSTM, QuikSCAT, SORCE, Terra, and TRMM. The Senior Review was tasked with reviewing proposals submitted by each mission team for extended operations and funding for FY14-FY15, and FY16-FY17. Since CloudSat, GRACE, QuikSCAT and SORCE have shown evidence of aging issues, they received baseline funding for extension through 2015. 34)

- The Aqua mission is now 5 years into its extended mission of producing a wide array of measurements in support of addressing NASA's Earth Science mission both from the perspective of creating climate data records necessary to evaluate climate change and from the perspective of products needed to better understand fundamental Earth science processes. The Aqua mission has been extremely successful and produces a large number of critical products that are very widely used by scientists, government agencies and operational groups.

- The AMSR-E instrument, which suffered a major anomaly in 2011, now operates in a reduced mode that provides data for cross-calibration with other AMSR instruments. All other instruments on Aqua are still operating nominally and the spacecraft is in excellent health and has enough fuel to operate through 2022.

- Of the Aqua sensor complement, MODIS and AIRS are making extremely unique and popular measurements for science and operational applications. The continuity of these data products is highly desirable for the scientific community and the broader user community.

• In February 2013, Aqua is over four and a half years beyond its prime mission, and yet the spacecraft and four of its instruments continue to operate well. HSB (from Brazil) failed in February 2003, and AMSR-E (from Japan) ceased science operations much more recently, in October 2011. As of December 2012, AMSR-E is again turned on, but at a much slower rotation rate (2 rpm versus 40 rpm) than desired for science data. The AMSR-E data being collected now are largely intended for cross-calibration with data from the AMSR-2 instrument (launch on May 17, 2012) flown on Japan's GCOM-W (= Shizuku) mission. The MODIS, AIRS, CERES, and AMSU (all from the U.S.) instruments on Aqua continue to work well. It's projected that the mission could continue until 2022. 35)

The retrieved atmospheric parameters using the observations from AMSR-E on Aqua are used primarily in climate research as well as in atmospheric models used in weather forecasting. This JAXA instrument performed exceptionally well for more than three times its design lifetime. 36)

• In mid-August 2012, an intense wildfire broke out on the Greek island of Chios, sending a thick plume of smoke southward toward the island of Crete. 37)

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Figure 27: MODIS on Aqua captured this natural-color image on August 18, 2012 (image credit: NASA)

Legend to Figure 27: The image shows part of the Aegean Sea dotted with many Greek islands between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. Greece typically sees little rain between April and September and experiences some of its highest temperatures in late July and early August. Wildfires are fairly common in the hot, dry days of August.

• July 2012: Aqua is operational and has now exceeded 10 years of on-orbit operations. It has collected a wealth of data that have been used for a variety of scientific and practical purposes. Well over 2,000 scientific papers have been published using Aqua data. An example of the many Aqua results deals with the the global energy budget. 38)

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Figure 28: Outgoing longwave radiation, March 18, 2011, as derived from Aqua CERES data (image credit: Tak Wong and the CERES Science Team)

Legend to Figure 28: CERES measurements allow the derivation of the solar radiation reflected from the Earth/atmosphere system back to space and the Earth's longwave radiation emitted to space. The CERES data from Aqua and Terra have been used with incoming solar radiation data from the TIM (Total Irradiance Monitor) on the SORCE (Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment) mission to calculate that the Earth has been accumulating energy at a rate of approximately 0.50 ± 0.43 Wm-2 over the course of the 10 year period 2001-2010. 39) This slight imbalance at the top of the atmosphere means that more energy is entering than leaving the Earth system, resulting in overall warming.

• In May 2012, Aqua marked its 10th year on-orbit, delivering unprecedented data about the Earth's climate, water cycle and much more. The mission demonstrates the considerable benefits of long-term, space-based environmental monitoring. 40) 41) 42)

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Figure 29: Image of stratocumulus clouds over the Pacific Ocean observed by MODIS on June 20, 2012 (image credit: NASA) 43)

Legend to Figure 29: A layer of stratocumulus clouds over the Pacific Ocean served as the backdrop for this rainbow-like optical phenomenon known as a glory. Glories generally appear as concentric rings of color in front of mist or fog. They form when water droplets within clouds scatter sunlight back toward a source of illumination (in this case the Sun). - Although glories may look similar to rainbows, the way light is scattered to produce them is different. Rainbows are formed by refraction and reflection; glories are formed by backward diffraction. The most vivid glories form when an observer looks down on thin clouds with droplets that are between 10 -30 µm in diameter. The brightest and most colorful glories also form when droplets are roughly the same size.

Another notable feature in this image are the swirling von Karman vortices that are visible to the right of the glory. The alternating double row of vortices form in the wake of an obstacle, in this instance the eastern Pacific island of Guadalupe, located ~ 240 km off the west coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

• In early 2012, the Aqua spacecraft and its instruments (AIRS, AMSU, CERES and MODIS) are in nominal operation. - In June 2011, the NASA Earth Science Senior Review recommended an extension of the Aqua mission to 2015. 44)

The AMSR-E instrument operations ended on October 4, 2011. The AMSR-E instrument of JAXA (built by Mitsubishi Electric Company) continued its operation for more than 9 years (design life of 3 years). However, since the end of August, 2011, a continuous increase of relatively large antenna rotation friction was detected twice; as a consequence, JAXA has been monitoring the condition. On October 4, 2011, the AMSR-E reached its limit to maintain the rotation speed necessary for regular observations (40 rpm), and the radiometer automatically halted its observations and rotation. Although, JAXA continued to analyze this problem, and take necessary measures to correct the situation in cooperation with NASA, the AMSR-E mission came to an end. The cause of the failure is most likely due to aging lubricant in the bearing mechanism. 45)

The good news is that AMSR2, a slightly modified and improved version of AMSR-E, will be launched in 2012 on JAXA's GCOM-W1 satellite, and will join Aqua and the other satellites in NASA's A-Train constellation of Earth observation satellites. - The Aqua project had hoped that AMSR-E would provide at least one year of data overlap with the new AMSR2 instrument on GCOM-W1. 46)

• The Aqua spacecraft and its payload are operating nominally in 2011 with five of the six original Earth-observing instruments still operating well (these are: AIRS, AMSU, AMSR-E, MODIS, and CERES). It now looks like there is a good chance that the mission can continue at least to 2020. 47)

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Figure 30: MODIS image of phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea observed on August 14, 2011 (image credit: NASA)

Legend to Figure 30: Brilliant shades of blue and green explode across the Barents Sea in this natural-color image taken on August 14, 2011, by MODIS on the Aqua spacecraft. Phytoplankton are tiny, microscopic plant-like organisms, but when they get together and start growing they can cover hundreds of square kilometers and be easily visible in satellite images. When conditions are right, phytoplankton populations can grow explosively, a phenomenon known as a bloom. A bloom may last several weeks, but the life span of any individual phytoplankton is rarely more than a few days. The area in this image is immediately north of the Scandinavian peninsula. Blooms spanning hundreds or even thousands of kilometers occur across the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans every year. 48)

• The Aqua spacecraft and its payload are operating nominally in 2010. The Aqua sensors contain much synergy with each other and with other sensors and satellite platforms (e.g. Terra), and global climate model simulations. Many of these synergies have been explored, resulting in improved accuracy of core and new bio and geophysical products, and new understanding of the environment. - NASA hopes to continue the Aqua mission until at least the NPP mission is going to be launched in late 2011.

• The prime mission of Aqua was completed in September 2008. Five of the original six Aqua instruments are still operational and in good health, and should continue to operate successfully over the next four years (FY10-FY13) of the proposed continuation and beyond. In 2009, Aqua has adequate propellant for at least eight more years of normal operations. 49)

Scientific accomplishments and current merits of the Aqua platform are excellent. These merits include data and discoveries from approximately 100 data products that address each of NASA's six interdisciplinary Earth science focus areas and 12 Applied Science Program Elements. The Aqua data are considered to be critical for the activities associated with the current or upcoming IPCC Working Group 1 Assessment Report 5 (AR5), 2009–2012, for regional to global climate change assessment and forecasting studies.

• Aqua is operating nominally in 2005. 50)

• The HSB (Humidity Sounder for Brazil) instrument of INPE ceased operating in February 2003.

• The AIRS instrument, the first high-spectral-resolution infrared sounder developed by NASA/JPL, has provided the most significant increase in forecast improvement in this time range of any other single instrument.

• Nominal Aqua mission operations began on September 1, 2002.

 


 

Sensor complement: (AIRS, AMSU/HSB, AMSR-E, CERES, MODIS)

Aqua has six Earth-observing instruments on board, collecting a variety of global data sets. 51)

Note: The descriptions of CERES and MODIS can be found under Terra.

Instrument

Sponsor

Developer

Spectral resolution

Geophysical parameters

AIRS

NASA/JPL

BAE Systems

More than 2,300 spectral channels ranging from 0.4 µm to 15.4 µm

Atmospheric temperature and humidity, land and sea surface temperatures, cloud, radioactive energy flux

AMSR-E

JAXA

JAXA (Japan)

12 channels at six discrete frequencies from 6.9 GHz to 89 GHz

Precipitation rate, water vapor, surface moisture content, sea ice extent, snow extent

AMSU

NASA/GSFC

Aerojet

15 channels ranging from 50 GHz to 90 GHz

Atmospheric temperature and humidity

HSB

INPE

MMS, UK

Five channels ranging from 150 MHz to 183 MHz

Atmospheric humidity

CERES

NASA/LaRC

TRW

Cross-track and azimuthal scanners with three channels per scanner

Radiative energy flux

MODIS

NASA/GSFC

Raytheon (SBRS)

36 channels ranging from 0.4 µm to 14 µm

Cloud, radioactive energy flux, aerosols, land cover and land use change, vegetation dynamics, land surface temperature, sea surface temperature, ocean color, snow cover, atmospheric temperature and humidity, sea ice

Table 3: Overview of sensor complement on the Aqua spacecraft

 

AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder):

AIRS is a NASA/JPL instrument, PI: M. T. Chahine; prime contractor is BAE Systems (Infrared and Imaging Systems Division (LMIRIS) of BAE Systems, in Lexington, MA). AIRS, along with AMSU and HSB, is of HIRS and MSU heritage flown on the NOAA POES series. Objective: High-spectral-resolution measurement of global temperature/humidity profiles in the atmosphere in support of operational weather forecasting by NOAA. Measurement of the Earth's upwelling infrared radiances in the spectral range of 3.74 - 15.4 µm, simultaneously at 2378 frequencies (bands). Four visible wavelength channels are also present. 52) 53) 54) 55) 56) 57) 58)

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Figure 31: Photo of the AIRS instrument (image credit: NASA)

The AIRS spectrometer is a pupil imaging, multi-aperture echelle grating design that utilizes a coarse 13 lines/mm grating at high orders (3-11) to disperse infrared energy across a series of detector arrays. The typical entrance slit of a spectrometer is subdivided into a series of eleven apertures, each of which is imaged onto the focal plane. The grating serves to spectrally disperse each image, which in turn is overlaid onto a HgCdTe detector array with each detector in the array viewing a unique wavelength by virtue of the grating dispersion. Rejection of overlapping grating orders and background photon suppression is provided by a series of IR bandpass filters located within the spectrometer and directly on the focal plane. Use of the grating in combination with the filter set provides a two-dimensional color map on the focal plane with a high degree of design flexibility in terms of color arrangement and spacing. Cooling of the spectrometer to 155 K is provided by a two stage passive radiator assembly with 10 Watt cooling capacity at 155 K.

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Figure 32: Isometric view of the AIRS instrument (image credit: NASA/JPL)

Dispersed energy exiting the spectrometer is imaged onto a state-of-the-art hybrid PV/PC: HgCdTe focal plane assembly (FPA) consisting of a series of multi-linear arrays each associated with a specific entrance aperture. The assembly consists of 17 arrays arranged in 12 modules with each module individually optimized for wavelength and photon flux. The module set includes 10 photovoltaic (PV) modules covering the 3.7 - 13.7 µm region and 2 photoconductive (PC) modules for the 13.7 - 15.4 µm region. The more advanced PV modules include on-focal plane signal processing via a custom CMOS Readout IC (ROIC) specifically designed for AIRS temperature, photon flux and radiation conditions. The ROIC provides the first stage of signal integration at a 1.4 ms subsample rate, which are summed off focal plane in groups of 16 to meet full footprint dwell time requirements. The IR FPA provides simultaneous measurement of 2378 spectral samples across the 3.7 - 15.4 µm region with two samples per resolution element. Additionally, each PV sample is further divided by two in the cross-dispersed direction to provide increased yield and a measure of spectral redundancy. As a consequence, the IR FPA contains a total of 4482 active detectors. The complex FPA is packaged in a vacuum dewar maintained at the 155 K spectrometer operating temperature, with the IR FPA cooled to 58 K via a redundant, 1.5 W capacity Split Stirling pulse tube cryocooler.

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Figure 33: Illustration of the FPA (Focal Plane Assembly), image credit: NASA/JPL)

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Figure 34: The AIRS spectrometer assembly (image credit: NASA/JPL)

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Figure 35: AIRS scan assembly (image credit: NASA/JPL)

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Figure 36: Illustration of the cryocooler assembly (image credit: NASA/JPL)

The infrared region of 3.74-15.4 µm has a spectral resolution of 1200 (lambda/ delta lambda). The high spectral resolution permits the separation of unwanted spectral emissions and, in particular, provides spectrally clean "super windows," ideal for surface observations. - This is supplemented by a VNIR photometer of four bands in the range between 0.4 and 1.0 µm. The VNIR channels are used to discriminate between low-level clouds and different terrain and surface covers, including snow and ice. The AIRS infrared bands have an IFOV of 1.1º and FOV = ± 49.5º scanning capability perpendicular to the spacecraft ground track (swath width = 1650 km, 13.5 km horizontal resolution in nadir, 1 km vertical). It takes 22.41 ms for each footprint of 1.1º in diameter (or 13.5 km). Each IR scan produces 90 footprints across the flight track and takes 2.67 s (see Figure 37). The VNIR channels have a footprint of 0.185º or about 2.3 km on the ground, nine VNIR footprints are within a 40 km swath. The VNIR photometer is boresighted to the spectrometer to allow simultaneous VNIR observations.

The VNIR photometer uses optical filters to define the four spectral bands. It operates at ambient temperatures (293-300 K). Inflight calibration is performed during each scan period. In addition, AIRS uses four independent cold-space views.

The major data products derived from AIRS are atmospheric temperature profiles, humidity profiles (from channels in the 6.3 µm water vapor band and the 11 µm windows, sensitive to the water vapor continuum), and land skin surface temperature.

AIRS is flown on the Aqua satellite with two operational microwave sounders: NOAA's AMSU and Brazil's HSB (Humidity Sounder Brazil). Together, the three sensors constitute constitute a possible advanced operational sounding system for future NOAA missions - offering increased accuracy of short-term weather predictions, improved tracking of severe weather events like hurricanes, and advances in climate research.

Instrument type

Multi-aperture, non-Littrow echelle array grating spectrometer configuration

Spectral coverage

3.74 - 15.4 µm for the array grating spectrometer (IR bands)
0.4 - 1.0 µm for photometer (4 VNIR bands at: 0.41-0.44, 0.58-0.68, 0.71-0.92, 0.49-0.94 µm)

Spectral resolution

1200 (lambda/delta lambda) array grating spectrometer, 2378 bands

Spatial resolution

13.5 km horizontal at nadir for IR bands (IFOV = 1.1º), 1 km vertical resolution, 2.3 km x 2.3 km for VNIR bands (IFOV = 0.185º)

IR detector cooling

Two-stage passive radiative cooler with retractable earth shield,

Swath width

1650 km (FOV= ± 49.5º) for IR bands; 40 km for VNIR bands

Instrument mass, power

177 kg, 220 W

Date rate, duty cycle

1.27 Mbit/s, 100%

Table 4: Overview of some AIRS parameters

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Figure 37: Illustration of the AIRS scan geometry and coverage (image credit: NASA/JPL)

 

Some AIRS results in 2010:

The excellent sensitivity and stability of the AIRS instrument has recently allowed the AIRS team to successfully retrieve Carbon Dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the mid-troposphere (8-10 km) with a horizontal resolution of 100 km and an accuracy of better than 2 ppm. 59)

Originally designed to retrieve temperature and water vapor profiles for weather forecast improvement, the AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) has become a valuable tool for the measurement and mapping of mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Several researchers have demonstrated the ability to retrieve mid-tropospheric CO2 from AIRS by different methods. The retrieval method selected for processing and distribution is called the method of "Vanishing Partial Derivatives" and results in over 15,000 CO2 retrievals per 24-hour period with global coverage and an accuracy better than 2 ppm.

The AIRS CO2 accuracy has been validated against a variety of mid-tropospheric aircraft measurements as well as upward looking interferometers (FTIR) from the ground.

Mid-tropospheric CO2 concentrations are an indicator for atmospheric transport and several interesting findings have resulted from analysis of the data.

- First is the non-uniformity of CO2, primarily caused by weather.

- Second is the ability to identify stratospheric-tropospheric exchange during a sudden stratospheric warming event.

- Third is the presence of a seasonally varying belt of enhanced CO2 concentrations in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Figure 38: AIRS yields about 15,000 mid-tropospheric CO2 measurements per day (image credit: NASA/JPL)

Carbon dioxide turns out to be an excellent tracer gas since it does not react with other gases in the atmosphere. The project is finding that the AIRS mid-tropospheric CO2 is a good indicator of vertical motion in the atmosphere. It is a known fact that the majority of atmospheric CO2 is produced and absorbed near the surface and that there are no sources or sinks in the free troposphere. Thus elevated levels of mid-tropospheric CO2 are the result of airflow into the mid-troposphere from the near surface.

The most obvious finding from the AIRS retrievals is that the distribution of CO2 is not uniform as indicated in the models. Strong latitudinal and longitudinal gradients exist particularly over the large land masses in the Northern Hemisphere. This phenomenon is referred to as "CO2 weather". The large variability in atmospheric circulation due to convection and global and mesoscale transport is responsible for most of the variability seen in the AIRS data. This implies that the AIRS CO2 data will be extremely useful for validating global scale transport in GCMs (Global Circulation Models).

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Figure 39: AIRS mid-tropospheric CO2 is a tracer for atmospheric motion particularly in the vertical direction. July, 2010 monthly average (image credit: NASA/JPL)

 

AMSU/HSB

AMSU/HSB (Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (NASA Instrument)/ (Humidity Sounder for Brazil), provided by INPE. Both instruments operate in conjunction.

AMSU was designed and developed by Aerojet of Azusa, CA (a GenCorp company). AMSU primarily provides temperature soundings, whereas HSB provides humidity soundings. AMSU is a 15-channel microwave radiometer. AMSU and HSB have a total of 19 channels, 15 are assigned to AMSU, each having a 3.3º beamwidth, and four are assigned to HSB, each having a beamwidth of 1.1º. AMSU comprises two separate units: AMSU-A1 (channels 3-15), and AMSU-A2 (channels 1 and 2). Channels 3 - 14 use the 50 to 60 GHz oxygen band to provide data for vertical temperature profiles up to 50 km. The "window" channels (1, 2, and 15) provide data to enhance the temperature sounding by correcting for surface emissivity, atmospheric liquid water, and total precipitable water. HSB channels 17 - 20 use the 183.3 GHz water vapor absorption line to provide data for the humidity profile. 60) 61)

AMSU-A1 measures temperature profiles from the surface up to 50 km in 15 channels. Temperature resolution: 0.25 - 1.2 K. The AMSU-A1 instrument has two 15 cm diameter antennas (reflectors with momentum compensation), each with a 3.3º nominal IFOV at the half power points or FWHM (Full width Half maximum). Each antenna provides a cross-track scan of ±49.5º from nadir with a total of 30 Earth views (scan positions) per scan line. The total scan period is eight seconds. The footprint (resolution) at nadir is 40 km. The swath width is approximately 1690 km. Internal calibration is performed with internal warm loads and cold space.

AMSU-A2 has a single 28 cm diameter antenna (reflector without momentum compensation) with a 3.3º nominal IFOV. All other instrument/observation parameters are the same as those of AMSU-A1.

AMSU parameters: mass = 91 kg (49 kg for AMSU-A1, 42 kg for AMSU-A2); power = 101 W; data rate = 2.0 kbit/s; thermal control by heater, central thermal bus, radiator; thermal operating range= 0-20º C.

Sensor

Channel

Center Frequency (GHz)

Bandwidth (MHz)

Sensitivity NEΔT (K)

AMSU-A2
(2 channels)

1
2

23.8
31.4

280
180

0.3
0.3

AMSU-A1
(13 channels)

3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

50.300
52.800
53.596± 0.115
54.400
54.940
55.500
57.290344 = Flo
Flo ± 0.217
Flo ± 0.3222, (±0.048)
Flo ± 0.3222, (±0.022)
Flo ±0.3222, (± 0.010)
Flo ±0.3222, (± 0.0045)
89.000

180
400
170
400
400
330
330
78
36
16
8
3
6000

0.4
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.4
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.2
0.5

HSB
(4 channels)

17
18
19
20

150.0
183.31±1.00
183.31±3.00
183.31±7.00

2000
1000
2000
4000

1.0
1.1
1.0
1.2

Table 5: Spectral parameters of the AMSU-A and HSB instruments

Aqua_Auto4

Figure 40: View of AMSU-A1 (left) and AMSU-A2 (right), image credit: Aerojet

Parameter

AMSU-A1

AMSU-A2

Instrument size

72 cm x 34 cm x 59 cm

73 cm x 61 cm x 68 cm

Mass, power

49 kg, 72 W

42 kg

Data rate

1.3 kbit/s

0.4 kbit/s

Antenna size

15 cm (2 units)

31 cm (1 unit)

IFOV (Instantaneous Field of View)

3.3º

3.3º

Swath width

100º, 1650 km

100º, 1650 km

Pointing accuracy

0.2º

0.2º

No of channels

13

2

Table 6: Summary of AMSU instrument parameters

 

HSB (Humidity Sounder for Brazil):

HSB is an INPE-provided instrument of AMSU-B heritage (built by MMS (Matra Marconi Space) of Bristol, UK (now EADS Astrium Ltd) with participation of Equatorial Sistemas of Brazil), and sponsored by AEB (Brazilian Space Agency). HSB is a microwave radiometer with the objective to measure atmospheric radiation, to obtain atmospheric water vapor profile measurements and to detect precipitation under clouds with 13.5 km horizontal nadir resolution (humidity profiles for weather foresting). 62) 63) 64)

HSB is a four-channel self-calibrating instrument (passive sounder) providing a humidity profiling capability in the frequency range of 150 - 190 GHz, spanning the height from surface to about 42 km. The measured signals are also sensitive to a) liquid water in clouds (cloud liquid water content) and b) graupel and large water droplets in precipitating clouds (qualitative estimate of precipitation rate). HSB scans in the cross-track direction at a rate of 2.67 seconds in continuous mode. The instrument features a momentum-compensated scan mirror system. HSB is operated in combination with AMSU-A, they have a total of 19 channels: 15 are assigned to AMSU-A, each having a 3.3º beamwidth, and four assigned to HSB, each having a 1.1º beamwidth. The HSB receiver channels are configured to operate in DSB (Double Sideband).

The HSB collected valuable data for the first nine months of the mission but ceased operating in February 2003 (scanner anomaly).

Nr. of channels

4 (total), Ch 17 at 150 GHz, Ch 18: 183.31 ±1 GHz, Ch. 19: 183.31 ±3 GHz, and Ch 20: 183.31 ±7 GHz

Swath width, scan period

1650 km, 2.67 s

FOV

±49.5º cross track from nadir (+90º to -49.5º for calibration)

IFOV (spatial resolution)

1.1º (13.5 km at nadir)

Instrument pointing

Control = 3600 arcseconds, knowledge = 360 arcseconds,
stability = 74 arcseconds/s

Thermal control, operating range

Radiator, 13 - 35ºC

Instrument power

80 W average, 154 W peak

Instrument mass, size, data rate

51 kg, 70 cm x 65 cm x 46 cm, 4.2 kbit/s

Temperature accuracy (data profile)

1.0 - 1.2 K, coverage (twice daily) of land and ocean surfaces, resolution of 50 km (horiz.) and 1 km (vertical), up to 100 mb

Humidity accuracy (data profile)

20%, global coverage (twice daily), res. = 50 km, 1 km (vertical)

Radiance accuracy (data profile)

1-1.2 K, global coverage (twice daily), res. = 15 km (average)

Table 7: Specification of the HSB instrument

Aqua_Auto3

Figure 41: Photo of the HSB instrument (image credit: NASA)

 

AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS):

AMSR-E is a JAXA/NASA cooperative instrument, of AMSR heritage, built by Mitsubishi Electronics Corporation (PIs: A. Shibata, R. W. Spencer). The objective is the measurement of geophysical parameters such as: cloud properties, radiative energy flux, precipitation, land surface wetness (moisture), sea ice, snow cover, sea surface temperature (SST), and sea surface wind fields. AMSR-E is a modified design of AMSR on ADEOS-II (Japan).

The AMSR-E instrument is a conically scanning total power passive microwave radiometer sensing microwave radiation (brightness temperatures) at 12 channels and 6 frequencies ranging from 6.9 to 89.0 GHz (6.925, 10.65, 18.7, 23.8, 36.5, and 89.0 GHz). Horizontally and vertically polarized radiation are measured separately at each frequency. 65) 66) 67)

AMSR-E consists of an offset parabolic reflector 1.6 m in diameter, fed by an array of six feedhorns. The reflector and feedhorn arrays are mounted on a drum which contains the radiometers, digital data subsystem, mechanical scanning subsystem, and power subsystem. The reflector/feed/drum assembly is rotated about the axis of the drum by a coaxially mounted bearing and power transfer assembly. All data, commands, timing and telemetry signals, and power pass through the assembly on slip ring connectors to the rotating assembly. The AMSR-E instrument has a mass of 314 kg, power = 350 W, a duty cycle of 100%, and an average data rate of 87.4 kbit/s.

Center frequency (GHz)

6.925

10.65

18.7

23.8

36.5

89.0

Bandwidth (MHz)

350

100

200

400

1000

3000

Sensitivity (K)

0.3

0.6

0.6

0.6

0.6

1.1

IFOV (km x km) footprint

75 x 43

51 x 29

27 x 16

31 x 18

14 x 8

6 x 4

Sampling rate (km x km)

10 x 10

10 x 10

10 x 10

10 x 10

10 x 10

5 x 5

Integration time (ms)

2.6

2.6

2.6

2.6

2.6

1.3

Main beam efficiency (%)

95.3

95.0

96.3

96.4

95.3

96.0

Beamwidth (º)

2.2

1.4

0.8

0.9

0.4

0.18

Polarization

Horizontal and Vertical

Incidence angle

55º

54.5º

Cross polarization

< - 20 dB

Swath width

> 1450 km

Dynamic range

2.7 - 340 K

Data quantization

12 bit

10 bit

Data rate

87.4 kbit/s

Antenna size, control unit

1.95 m x 1.7 m x 2.4 m, 0.8 m x 1.0 m x 0.6 m

Table 8: Performance parameters of AMSR-E

Aqua_Auto2

Figure 42: Schematic view of the AMSR-E instrument (image credit: NASA)

The AMSR-E instrument rotates continuously about an axis parallel to the local spacecraft vertical at 40 rpm. At an altitude of 705 km, it measures the upwelling scene brightness temperatures over an angular sector of ± 61º about the subsatellite track, resulting in a swath width of 1445 km. During a period of 1.5 seconds the S/C subsatellite point travels 10 km. Even though the IFOV for each channel is different, active scene measurements are recorded at equal intervals of 10 km (5 km for the 89 GHz channels) along the scan. The half cone angle at which the reflector is fixed is 47.4º which results in an Earth incidence angle of 55.0º.

Aqua_Auto1

Figure 43: Line drawing of the AMSR-E instrument (image credit: NASA)

Instrument calibration. The radiometer calibration accuracy budget, exclusive of antenna pattern correction effects, is composed of three major contributors: warm load reference error, cold load reference error, radiometer electronics nonlinearities and errors.

Some data products from AMSR-E are:

• Level 2A brightness temperatures

• Level 2 rainfall

• Level 3 rainfall

• Columnar cloud water over the oceans

• Columnar water vapor over the oceans

• Sea surface temperature (SST)

• Sea surface wind speed

• Sea ice concentration

• Sea ice temperature

• Snow depth on sea ice

• Snow-water equivalent on land

• Surface soil moisture

Aqua_Auto0

Figure 44: The Aqua spacecraft and instrument accommodations (image credit: NASA, JAXA)

 


1) C. L. Parkinson, "Aqua: An Earth-Observing Satellite Mission to Examine Water and other Climate Variables," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 41, No 2, Feb. 2003, pp. 173-183, Note: The entire issue is devoted to the EOS Aqua Mission.

2) http://aqua.nasa.gov/

3) http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/151986main_Aqua_brochure.pdf

4) Eric J. Fetzer, "Observing Clouds and Water Vapor with NASA's A-Train," Joint GCSS-GPCI/BLCI-RICO Workshop, NASA/GISS New York, USA, Sept. 18, 2006, URL: http://www.knmi.nl/samenw/rico/presentations/Fetzer_GCSS.pdf

5) "Raised by Fire, Felled by Ice," NASA Earth Observatory, Jan. 3, 2017, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89376

6) Kathryn Hansen, "A Celebration of Clouds from Space," NASA Earth Observatory, December 20, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CloudsGallery/

7) "Phytoplankton Enlivens Swaths of Barren Ocean," NASA Earth Observatory, Dec. 20, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89292&src=eoa-iotd

8) Jamison M. Gove, Margaret A. McManus, Anna B. Neuheimer, Jeffrey J. Polovina, Jeffrey C. Drazen, Craig R. Smith, Mark A. Merrifield, Alan M. Friedlander, Julia S. Ehses, Charles W. Young, Amanda K. Dillon, Gareth J. Williams, "Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins," Nature Communications, Vol. 7, Article Number:10581, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10581, Published online: 16 February 2016, URL: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms10581.pdf

9) James N. Moum, Alexander Perlin, Jonathan D. Nash, Michael J. McPhaden, "Seasonal sea surface cooling in the equatorial Pacific cold tongue controlled by ocean mixing," Nature Letter, Vol. 500, pp:64-67, 01 August 2013, doi:10.1038/nature12363

10) "Dust Over the Arabian Sea," NASA Earth Observatory, Dec. 18, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89274&src=eoa-iotd

11) Adam Voiland, "Iron in the Wind," NASA Earth Observatory, Nov. 1, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89021

12) "Smoke and Fires in Central Russia," NASA Earth Observatory, Sept. 24, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=88792&src=eoa-iotd

13) "Red Lake Urmia," NASA Earth Observatory, July 26, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=88395

14) Kathryn Hansen,"Dust Over the Red Sea," NASA Earth Observatory, June 18, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=88211

15) Adam Volland, "A Global View of Methane," NASA Earth Observatory, released on March 15, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=87681&src=eoa-iotd

16) "Field Campaign Will Sample Korean Air," NASA Earth Observatory, March 2, 2016, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=87596

17) "KORUS-AQ: An International Cooperative Air Quality Field Study in Korea," NASA, March 1, 2016, URL: https://espo.nasa.gov/home/korus-aq

18) "Aqua Earth-observing satellite mission," NASA, Feb. 23, 2016, URL: http://aqua.nasa.gov/

19) "Operation of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS (AMSR-E) onboard the US Earth Observing Satellite "Aqua" completed," JAXA Press Release, December 7, 2015, URL: http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2015/12/20151207_amsr-e.html

20) "Eruption of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia," NASA Earth Observatory, Nov. 7, 2015, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86932&src=ve

21) http://aqua.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/AquaStatus_October2015.pdf

22) Guosheng Liu (Chair), Ana Barros, Andrew Dessler, Gary Egbert, Sarah Gille, Lyatt Jaegle, Linwood Jones, Richard Miller, Derek Posselt, Scott Powell, Douglas Vandemark,"NASA Earth Science Senior Review 2015," June 22, 2015, URL: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2015/07/15/2015_ESDSeniorReviewReport_FINAL.pdf

23) "Swirls of Color in the Yellow Sea," NASA Earth Observatory, March 24, 2015, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=85514&src=eoa-iotd

24) "Thick Dust Plumes Obscure Africa's Coast," NASA Earth Observatory, March 4, 2015, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=85423

25) Hongbin Yu, Mian Chin, Tianle Yuan, Huisheng Bian, Lorraine A. Remer, Joseph M. Prospero, Ali Omar, David Winker, Yuekui Yang, Yan Zhang, Zhibo Zhang, Chun Zhao, "The Fertilizing Role of African Dust in the Amazon Rainforest: A First Multiyear Assessment Based on CALIPSO Lidar Observations," Geophysical Research Letters, 24 Feb- 2015, DOI : 10.1002/2015GL063040

26) "Algae Bloom on Lake Erie," NASA Earth Observatory, August 5, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84125&src=eoa-iotd

27) Holli Riebeek, "A Warm Current Blooms," NASA Earth Observatory, released on July 2, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83944

28) "Wildfires in California," NASA Earth Observatory, May 17, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83675

29) "Fires in North Korea," NASA Earth Observatory, May 2, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83593

30) "Plankton and Sulfur in the Benguela Current," NASA Earth Observatory, April 30, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83571

31) Kathryn Hansen, "NASA Satellite Sees Great Freeze Over Great Lakes," NASA, February 28, 2014, URL: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-satellite-sees-great-freeze-over-great-lakes/#.UxlbYc7ihqM

32) "Spiral of Plankton," NASA Earth Observatory, Jan. 09, 2014, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82761

33) "Super Typhoon Haiyan," NASA, Nov. 8, 2013, URL: http://aqua.nasa.gov/highlight.php?id=56

34) Elizabeth Ritchie (Chair), Ana Barros, Robin Bell, Alexander Braun, Richard Houghton, B. Carol Johnson, Guosheng Liu, Johnny Luo, Jeff Morrill, Derek Posselt, Scott Powell, William Randel, Ted Strub, Douglas Vandemark, "NASA Earth Science Senior Review 2013," June 14, 2013, URL: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2013/07/16/2013-NASA-ESSR-FINAL.pdf

35) Information provided by Claire Parkinson, Aqua Project Scientist at NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD, USA.

36) Elena S. Lobl, "Accomplishments from 9.5 years of AMSR-E observations," Proceedings of SPIE Remote Sensing 2012, 'Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites,' Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, Vols. 8531-8539, Sept. 24-27, 2012, paper: 8533-18

37) "Wildfire on Chios," NASA. Aug. 22, 2012, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78918

38) Claire L. Parkinson, "Aqua's first 10 Years: An Overview," Proceedings of IGARSS (International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium), Munich, Germany, July 22-27, 2012

39) Norman G. Loeb, John M. Lyman, Gregory C. Johnson, Richard P. Allan, David R. Doelling, Takmeng Wong, Brian J. Soden, Graeme L. Stephens, "Observed changes in top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and upper-ocean heating consistent within uncertainty," Nature Geoscience,Vol. 5, 2012, pp. 110-113, doi:10.1038/NGEO1375

40) "Satellite Celebrates 10 Years on Orbit," Aerospace, Now, Vol. 4, No 5, Northrop Grumman, May 5, 2012, URL: http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/media/pdf/May_2012.pdf

41) Eric Conway, "The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA's Aqua Satelite: Looking Back on Ten Years of Contributions to Weather and Climate Science," NAS/JPL, May 4, 2012, URL: http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/news_archive/2012-05-04-AIRS-Science-at-10-Years/

42) "NASA Weather 'Eye in the Sky' Marks 10 Years," Science Daily, May 7, 2012, URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507092743.htm

43) "Earth Observatory," NASA, June 2012, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78380

44) George Hurtt (Chair), Ana Barros, Richard Bevilacqua, Mark Bourassa, Jennifer Comstock, Peter Cornillon, Andrew Dessler, Gary Egbert, Hans-Peter Marshall, Richard Miller, Liz Ritchie, Phil Townsend, Susan Ustin,"NASA Earth Science Senior Review 2011," June 30, 2011, URL: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2011/07/22/2011-NASA-ESSR-v3-CY-CleanCopy_3x.pdf

45) "Observation Halted by Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS (AMSR-E)," JAXA, Oct. 4, 2011, URL: http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2011/10/20111004_amsr-e_e.html

46) Roy W. Spencer, "AMSR-E Ends 9+ Years of Global Observations," Oct. 4, 2011, URL: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/10/amsr-e-ends-9-years-of-global-observations/

47) Information provided by Claire L. Parkinson, Project Scientist of the Aqua Mission, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

48) "Bloom in the Barents Sea," NASA Earth Observatory, Aug. 14, 2011, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=51765&src=nha

49) Steven A. Ackerman (chair), Richard Bevilacqua, Bill Brune, Bill Gail, Dennis Hartmann, George Hurtt, Linwood Jones, Barry Gross, John Kimball, Liz Ritchie, CK Shum, Beata Csatho, William Rose, Carlos Del Castillo, Cheryl Yuhas, "NASA Earth Science Senior Review 2009," URL: http://nasascience.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy/senior-reviews/2009SeniorReviewSciencePanelReportFINAL.pdf

50) Bill Guit, "Mission Operations Status," August 23, 2005, URL: http://aqua.nasa.gov/doc/presentations/2_MissionOperations_Y050823.ppt

51) http://aqua.nasa.gov/about/instruments.php

52) H. H. Aumann, M. Chahine, C. Gautier, M. D. Goldberg, E. Kalnay, L. M. McMillin, H. Revercomb, P. W. Rosenkranz, W. L. Smith, D. H. Staelin, L. L. Strow, J. Susskind, "AIRS/AMSU/HSB on the Aqua Mission: Design, Science Objectives, Data Products, and Processing Systems," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 41, No 2, pp. 253-264, February 2003, URL http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~gautier/CV/pubs/Auman_et_al_2003.pdf

53) Aqua brochure of NASA/GSFC, March 2002, courtesy of Claire L. Parkinson, URL: http://aqua.nasa.gov/doc/pubs/Aqua_brochure.pdf

54) http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/

55) M. H. Weiler, K. R. Overoye, J. A. Stobie, P. B. O'Sullivan, S. L. Gaiser, S. E. Broberg, D. A. Elliott, "Performance of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) in the Radiation Environment of Low-Earth Orbit," Proceedings of the SPIE Conference Optics and Photonics, San Diego CA, USA, July 31-Aug. 4, 2005, Vol. 5882

56) C. D. Barnet, M. D. Goldberg, L. McMillin, M. T. Chahine, "Remote sounding of trace gases with the EOS/AIRS instrument," `Atmospheric and Environmental Remote Sensing Data Processing and Utilization: an End-to-End System Perspective,' Edited by Huang, Hung-Lung A.; Bloom, Hal J. Proceedings of the SPIE, Vol. 5548, 2004, pp. 300-312

57) http://aqua.nasa.gov/about/instrument_airs.php

58) Stuart MacCallum, "The Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder," 2005, URL: http://xweb.geos.ed.ac.uk/~stuart/Presentations/stuart_firbush2005.pdf

59) Thomas S. Pagano, Moustafa T. Chahine, Edward T. Olsen, "Seven years of observations of Mid-Tropospheric CO2 from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder," Proceedings of the 61st IAC (International Astronautical Congress), Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 27-Oct. 1, 2010, IAC-10.B1.6.3

60) Eric Fetzer, Larry M. McMillin, David Tobin, Hartmut H. Aumann, Michael R. Gunson, W. Wallace McMillan, Denise E. Hagan, Mark D. Hofstadter, James Yoe, David N. Whiteman, John E. Barnes, Ralf Bennartz, Holger Vömel, VonWalden, Michael Newchurch, Peter J. Minnett, Robert Atlas, Francis Schmidlin, Edward T. Olsen, Mitchell D. Goldberg, Sisong Zhou, HanJung Ding, William L. Smith, and Hank Revercomb "AIRS/AMSU/HSB validation," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 41, Issue 2, Feb. 2003, pp. 418-431

61) Eric J. Fetzer, Edward T. Olsen, Luke Chen, Denise Hagan, "Validation of AIRS / AMSU / HSB retrieved products," URL: http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/38290/1/03-1851.pdf

62) Information provided by Janio Kono of INPE, Sao José dos Campos, Brazil

63) B. H. Lambrigtsen, R. V. Calheiros, "The Humidity Sounder for Brazil - an international partnership," IEEE Transaction on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 41, Issue 2, Feb. 2003, pp. 352-361

64) Ezio Castejon Garcia, Marcio Bueno dos Santos, "The Environmental Simulation of the Humidity Sounder for Brazil," 54th Astronautical Congress of the IAF, Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2003, Bremen, Germany

65) http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/AMSR/instrument_descrip.html

66) AMSR-E Data Users Handbook, 4th Edition, JAXA, March 2006, NCX-030021

67) http://nsidc.org/data/docs/daac/amsre_instrument.gd.html
 


The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (herb.kramer@gmx.net).

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