Terra satellite

20th anniversary of NASA's Terra satellite

18 December 2019 and 25 February 2000, 14:30 UTC

Terra satellite
Terra satellite

On 18 December 2019, NASA’s EOS Terra satellite celebrated 20 years since its launch in 1999.

Last Updated

06 December 2022

Published on

18 December 2019

By Martin Setvák (CHMI)

Despite two decades of operations in space, the Terra satellite still performs very well, providing data from most of its instruments. Of these, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (referred to as MODIS) instrument is probably the best known, not only to a broad scientific community, but also to general public. Since its launch at the end of last millennium, the satellite has been providing scientific data of incredible quality, opening brand new horizons for many applications.

Moreover, the MODIS instrument has also been used during preparations for various new satellites, simulating anticipated data from their new instruments. Among others, this was the case before the launch of the first Meteosat Second Generation satellite, and is currently the case in preparations for the coming Meteosat Third Generation satellites.

 MODIS Sandwich Product, 25 Feb 2000, 14:30 UTC, Argentina
Figure 1: MODIS Sandwich Product, 25 February 2000, 14:30 UTC, Argentina

This anniversary image from 2 February 2000, 14:30 UTC (second day of MODIS data availability), shows a storm above north Argentina. This was one of the first storms captured by the instrument.

The image is the sandwich product, which combines the 250m visible band 01, with 1km colour-enhanced IR band 31 — a visualisation technique developed about 10 years after the satellite was launched.

The second NASA EOS satellite equipped with the MODIS instrument — Aqua — was launched about two-and-a-half years later, on 22 May 2002.