Friday, March 7, 2014


MODIS is a special remote sensing instrument used to monitor the earth. The name is an acronym which stands for Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.
MODIS instrument on NASA's DC-8 Flying Laboratory, June 2013
(c) Brian Blaylock
Currently it is installed on two satellites--Terra and Aqua--and is used in airborne earth research like on NASA's DC-8 Flying Laboratory. The images this instrument creates are used to monitor cloud cover, monitor the progression of wildfires and smoke transport, estimate snow cover, and has many other uses.

Aqua Satellite. Image from NASA Eyes
Terra and Aqua are polar orbiting satellites. As the earth rotates, the satellites sensors scan the earth taking a continuous picture. Below shows the location of the Aqua satellite and the orbit path.
Image from NASA Eyes
Aqua and Terra, together, image the entire earth in about a day. The data they collect is transmitted back to earth, processes, and stitched together to form a complete picture. Below is an composite image for March 6, 2014. Because the earth is a sphere, data over some parts of the earth cannot be collected, and the missing data can be seen below. 
Image from NASA Eyes

The latest MODIS images can be found here: 

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