MOPITT First Light

Satellite instrument began to transmit data 20 years ago

A satellite is a vessel, a container for one or more instruments. With the launch of NASA’s Terra satellite on December 18, 1999, five instruments began a historic journey, a journey that has now extended more than 20 years—far beyond Terra’s six-year expected design life. MOPITT began to transmit data back to earth on March 2, 2000.

MOPITT is a joint venture of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. As noted by Dr. Helen Worden, the MOPITT U.S. PI, MOPITT is the only Terra instrument focused on trace gas pollution, specifically carbon monoxide. Comparing MOPITT data with data from MODIS and MISR, both of which measure aerosol optical depth, provides more information on the sources of atmospheric aerosols. “We were the first continuous global observations of carbon monoxide,” says Dr. Worden. “This showed how pollution from large urban and biomass burning sources, like fires in the Amazon, is transported globally. People take this for granted now, but this wasn’t the case until you had the satellite view of carbon monoxide transport.”

Read more at NASA Earthdata . . .


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Instruments on the Terra satellite. NASA image.
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