The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument is one of NASA’s five Earth-observing instruments. Launched on December 18, 1999, on the Terra satellite, ASTER “images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet” by capturing high-resolution (15 to 90 square meters per pixel) images of the Earth. Since then, more than 2.95 million images were captured. The content “ranges from massive scars across the Oklahoma landscape from an EF-5 tornado and the devastating aftermath of flooding in Pakistan, to volcanic eruptions in Iceland and wildfires in California”. Users can view a fraction of the images from this website, while the rest can be accessed from a series of different tools provided.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or National Archives is a “record keeper” of the United States Federal government. Besides contributions from the National Archives, the Flickr account contains photographs from the National Archives and the federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA (1971 – 1977). The project was initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to capture the environmental problems and achievements of that era.
As part of the EOS Project Science Office located at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the mission of the Earth Observatory is “to share with the public the images, stories, and discoveries about the environment, Earth systems, and climate that emerge from NASA research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and models”. Users can do a keyword search or browse images by different categories. Users can also generate images of global maps to explore key parts of the Earth’s climate system. The images are based on data provided by the NASA satellites.