NASA Selects Instruments to Track Climate Impact on Vegetation

The International Space Station provides several in-orbit capabilities useful to both instruments. The space station orbit is inclined relative to the poles, providing more observation time of forests and vegetation over temperate land masses than possible from the polar orbits commonly used for other types of Earth observations. The GEDI laser requires significant power resources, which the space station can provide. Also, the relatively low altitude of the station’s orbit, about 260 miles up, benefits GEDI by ensuring a higher return energy for laser pulses reflected from the ground.

In 2012, NASA selected the first Earth Venture Instrument investigation, the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission. TEMPO will be the first space-based sensor to monitor major air pollutants across North American hourly during daytime. It will share a ride on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload and orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator.