September 21, 2011
Twenty Six NASA science spacecraft have been added to the list of available satellites.
All of these spacecraft are currently operating and providing a wealth of scientific information
to the world. As future spacecraft are placed into low Earth orbit, they will be added as well.
Note that these spacecraft are not nearly as large as the ISS and as such, will be not be as bright and will
be challenging to see. We recommend that you allow at least 5 minutes outside before the sighting for your eyes
to adjust to the darkness prior to an attempt to view any of these spacecraft.
As for now, the following spacecraft are listed:
ACRIMSAT : ACRIMSAT is the latest in a series of long-term
solar-monitoring missions, utilizing the proven Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor III (ACRIM III) instrument.
ADEOS-II : The ADEOS-II (SeaWinds)
scatterometer is a specialized microwave radar that measures near-surface wind velocity (both speed and direction)
under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. This is a twin sister to the QuikSCAT sensor and flies
on the Japanese ADEOS-II Spacecraft to provide similar observations beyond the QuikSCAT mission.
AIM : Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) is a mission
to determine the causes of the highest altitude clouds in the Earth's atmosphere.
Aqua : Aqua will obtain precise atmosphere and ocean
measurements to understand their role in Earth's climate and its variations. Aqua carries six state-of-the-art instruments
to observe the Earth's oceans, atmosphere, land, ice and snow covers, and vegetation.
Aquarius : Aquarius is a focused satellite
mission to measure global sea surface salinity (SSS). By measuring SSS over the globe with such unprecedented precision,
Aquarius will answer long-standing questions about how our oceans respond to climate change and the water cycle.
CALIPSO : The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations
(CALIPSO) spacecraft was developed to help scientists answer significant questions and provide new
information about the effects of clouds and aerosols (airborne particles) on changes in the Earth's climate
CloudSat : CloudSat uses advanced radar to "slice" through clouds to see their vertical structure, providing a
completely new observational capability from space.
EO-1 : Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) is an advanced land-imaging mission that will demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft
systems. EO-1 will validate technologies contributing to the significant reduction in cost of follow-on Landsat missions.
GALEX : The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) is an
orbiting space telescope that observes galaxies in ultraviolet light.
GRACE-1 and GRACE-2 : The GRACE mission is to accurately map variations in the Earth's gravity field. The GRACE mission
has two identical spacecraft flying about 220 kilometers apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers above the Earth.
Hinode : Hinode (formerly known as Solar-B) is a highly sophisticated observational satellite equipped with three
advanced solar telescopes.
HST : The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a telescope that
orbits Earth. Its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet,
gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes.
Jason-1 and Jason-2 : Jason-1 is an
oceanography mission to monitor global ocean circulation, improve global climate predictions, and monitor events such
as El Nino conditions and ocean eddies. The Jason-2 satellite is an international Earth observation satellite mission
that continues the sea surface height measurements begun in 1992 by the joint NASA/CNES TOPEX/Poseidon mission and
followed by the NASA/CNES Jason-1 mission.
LandSat-7 : Landsat 7 systematically provides well-calibrated,
multispectral, moderate resolution, substantially cloud-free, Sun-lit digital images of the Earth's continental
and coastal areas with global coverage on a seasonal basis.
ORBVIEW-2 : The ORBVIEW-2 (SeaStar)
satellite carries the SeaWiFS instrument which is designed to monitor the color of the world's oceans.
Various ocean colors indicate the presence of different types and quantities of marine phytoplankton,
which play a role in the exchange of critical elements and gases between the atmosphere and oceans.
QuikSCAT : The QuikSCAT mission is intended
to record sea-surface wind speed and direction data under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans.
RHESSI : The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar
Spectroscope Imager (RHESSI) scientific objective is to understand solar impulsive energy release, particale
acceleration, and particle and energy transport.
RXTE : The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE)
is a satellite that observes the fast-moving, high-energy worlds of black holes, neutron stars,
X-ray pulsars and bursts of X-rays that light up the sky and then disappear forever.
SORCE : The Solar Radiation and Climate
Experiment (SORCE) is a NASA-sponsored satellite mission that will provide state-of-the-art measurements of
incoming x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and total solar radiation.
Suzaku : Suzaku, formerly known as NeXT,
is Japan's fifth X-ray astronomy mission, and was developed at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) in collaboration with U.S. (NASA/GSFC, MIT) and
Swift : The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer is a
first-of-its-kind multi-wavelength observatory dedicated to the study of gamma-ray burst (GRB) science.
Its three instruments work together to observe GRBs and afterglows in the gamma-ray, X-ray, ultraviolet,
and optical wavebands.
Terra : Terra (formerly EOS AM-1) is the
flagship satellite of NASA's Earth observing systems. Terra is the first EOS (Earth Observing System) platform
and provides global data on the state of the atmosphere, land, and oceans, as well as their interactions with
solar radiation and with one another.
TIMED : The Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere
Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) spacecraft explores the Earth's Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (60-180
kilometers up), the least explored and understood region of our atmosphere.
TRMM : The Tropical Rainfall Measuring
Mission (TRMM) is a joint mission between NASA and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan.
TRMM is particularly devoted to determining rainfall in the tropics and subtropics of the Earth.