NASA Announces Changes to International Space Station Coverage

In September, NASA will bring its online audience inside the world of human spaceflight as never before, from its Johnson Space Center in Houston -- home to NASA’s astronaut corps, the storied mission control and several human spaceflight programs.

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Sentinel-3 scans Earth’s colour

Sentinel-3’s Ocean and Land Colour Instrument  (OLCI) is based on heritage from Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and features 21 distinct bands in the 0.4–1.02 ìm spectral region (or 400–1020 nm) tuned to specific ocean colour, vegetation and atmospheric correction measurement requirements. It has a spatial resolution of 300 m for all measurements and a swath width of 1270 km, overlapping the SLSTR swath. OLCI’s new eyes on Earth allow ocean ecosystems to be monitored, support crop management and agriculture and provide estimates of atmospheric aerosol and clouds – all of which bring significant societal benefits through more informed decision-making.

The animation illustrates the instrument’s push-broom scanning principle. The colours represent the different spectral bands, which are acquired by five cameras covering the instrument’s broad swath. Each camera measures a portion of the swath at a nadir spatial resolution of 300 m.

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Sentinel-3’s scanning radiometer

The Sentinel-3 satellites carry a package of different instruments including the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR). This instrument measures global sea- and land-surface temperatures every day to an accuracy of better than 0.3 K. Continuing the legacy of Envisat’s Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer, it maintains a dual-view along-track-scanning approach and delivers measurements at a spatial resolution of 500 m for visible/near-infrared and short-wavelength infrared channels and at 1 km for the thermal infrared channels. Furthermore, SLSTR includes two dedicated thermal infrared channels that are optimised for active fire detection and fire radiative power measurement – important for Copernicus Emergency Response and Climate Services.

The animation shows how SLSTR’s two rotating mirrors scan a curved swath on the ground, one at nadir and one inclined obliquely pointing to the rear of the satellite. The oblique view has a narrower swath of 740 km compared to 1400 km of the nadir swath. As each scanner rotates, it samples signals in nine separate bands covering the visible and infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, indicated by the colours rising towards the satellite. As the satellite orbits, the dual-view technique is used to improve atmospheric correction and generate more accurate data products compared to a nadir view alone.

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Iranian painting

The Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over to northeastern Iran, the second largest country in the Middle East.

A dryland area, most of Iran’s territory is classified as arid and semi-arid, about half of which is characterised by rangeland, barren land and mountains.

Visible in the centre of the image and at top left are alluvial fans. These are formed when streams or rivers hit plains and spread out. They represent the distinct pattern of water runoff from the mountains, where the eroded soil, with the help of rain, is carried from the mountain slopes to lower lands.

At top left, resembling brush strokes in a painting, seasonal accumulation of water and various salt minerals is evident in greys and whites.

Scattered throughout the image are many agricultural plots, distinct in such an arid and mountainous region, which also features various rocky formations.

At the far right, the city of Bajestan is visible, with many agricultural fields around it. It is a city with a population of some 11 000, with saffron and pomegranate its most important products, grown in the various plots on the left.

The shades of red indicate how sensitive the multispectral instrument on Sentinel-2A is to differences in chlorophyll content, providing key information on vegetation health.

Various towns or settlements are represented in greys throughout the image.

This false-colour image – also featured on the Earth from Space video programme – was captured by Sentinel-2A on 22 February 2016. The satellite is the first in the two-satellite Sentinel-2 mission for Europe’s Copernicus programme, carrying a wide-swath high-resolution instrument with 13 spectral bands, for a new perspective on our land and vegetation.

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