An Overview of NASA Earth Science Satellite Constellations

Steve Platnick, EOS Project Scientist, A-Train Project Scientist

Angelita C. Kelly, EOS Science Interface Manager, Constellation Team Manager

History of NASA studying earth science

“Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” (Socrates, 400BC)

We live in a gifted time in terms of technology

3 main earth observing system (EOS) platforms: individual satellites carry multiple earth observing tools in themes: water cycle, land, tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry

research on …

  • atmospheric composition
  • climate variability and change
  • water and energy cycle
  • carbon cycle and ecosystem
  • earth surface and interior
  • weather
  • interdisciplinary science


constellation flying (group of satellites coordinated to fly in tandem so photographs of earth are taken at the same time): A-Train (afternoon constellation) and Morning Constellations

Multiple satellites with different instruments complement each other – provides bigger picture

The Constellations are an international effort, managed by multiple organizations

All scientific data is completely free and web-accessible from anywhere in the world

Students who aspire to work at NASA should take math and science courses as soon as they are offered at their grade levels; there are various choices for a technical career at NASA: scientist, engineering, data systems, computer specialist, analyst, quality control, education and outreach (and there are non-technical careers that contribute to NASA’s work)


  • A-train:
  • Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Science Office:
  • The Earth Observatory:
  • Science Visualization Studio:
  • MODIS Rapid Response Imagery:

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