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Science Objectives

The objectives set by the Earth Science Enterprise can will be achieived by answering these questions about the workings of the global Earth system. To be answered, the questions require scientific measurements from various satellites and sensors to be answered. The following section shows highlights the what questions are asked to fulfill each objective, and the measurements the mission will take to answer the each question.

1: Discern and describe how the global Earth system is changing

How are global precipitation, evaporation, and the cycling of water changing?

→ Atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles
How is the global ocean circulation varying on inter-annual, decadal, longer time scales?

→ Sea surface temperature data
How are global ecosystems changing?

→ Ocean color measurements and vegaetation indices
CrIS photoThree days of composite sea-surface temperature data from Suomi NPP's CrIS instrument.
NPP feature imageThe CERES instrument is scanning Earth for availability of measurements of the energy leaving the Earth-atmosphere system.

2: Identify and measure primary causes of change in the Earth system

What trends in the atmospheric constitutents and solar radiation are driving climate change?

→ Measurement required to answer: Aerosol properties
What are the changes in global land cover and land use, and what are their causes?

→ Land cover, and fire occurreance data
NPP feature imageVIIRS and OMPS Combine Dust and Aerosol Data
NPP feature image The OMPS instrument tracks smoke aerosols from fires as winds move the plumes across the globe.

3: Determine how the Earth system responds to natural and human induced changes

What are the effects of clouds and surface hydrologic processes on Earth's climate?

→ Cloud system structure, cloud particle size, properties, and distributions data
How do ecosystems respond to and affect global environmental change and the carbon cycle?

→ Coastal marine productivity, and carbon sources sinks data

4: Identify the consequences of changes for human civilization

What are the consequences of land cover and land use?

→ Primary productivity data, and land cover inventories

[Right] Billions of people will see London through many different filters and lenses during the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
NPP feature image

5: Enable the prediction of Earth system changes that will take place in the future

How can weather forecast duration and reliability be improved by new space-based observations, data assimilation, and modeling?

→ Sea surface temperature data
How well can transient climate variations be understood and predicted?

→ Sea surface temperature data


The Suomi-NPP Marble Collection These various global views and animations of the Earth are composites assembled from data acquired by the Suomi-NPP satellite. + view collection

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