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Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific AchievementsObserving Earth from space over the past 50 years has fundamentally transformed the way people view our home planet. The image of the "blue marble" is taken for granted now, but it was revolutionary when taken in 1972 by the crew on Apollo 17. Since then the capability to look at Earth from space has grown increasingly sophisticated and has evolved from simple photographs to quantitative measurements of Earth properties such as temperature, concentrations of atmospheric trace gases, and the exact elevation of land and ocean. Imaging Earth from space has resulted in major scientific accomplishments; these observations have led to new discoveries, transformed the Earth sciences, opened new avenues of research, and provided important societal benefits by improving the predictability of Earth system processes. This report highlights the scientific achievements made possible by the first five decades of Earth satellite observations by space-faring nations. It follows on a recent report from the National Research Council (NRC) entitled Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, also referred to as the "decadal survey." Recognizing the increasing need for space observations, the decadal survey identifies future directions and priorities for Earth observations from space. This companion report was requested by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to highlight, through selected examples, important past contributions of Earth observations from space to our current understanding of the planet.
Document ID
Document Type
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2008
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
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