A New Point of View



Laythen Streit, Staff Writer

In orbit since 1999, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro Radio Meter, or MODIS, is an instrument that is added to the Terra, which was launched on December 18th, 1999. and Aqua was launched three years later on May 4th. The purpose of this instrument is to serve as a planetary observation system. It lets you see the planet from space and thanks to MODIS, you can see it in HD! Along with a powerful zoom. 

The camera of MODIS satellites uses a radiometric signal to communicate with their home stations, for instance, the first MODIS satellite was the Terra satellite that launched in 1999, what does MODIS use to view the planet? Well, is uses a double-sided scan mirror that continuously rotates at 55 degrees, the point of this is so that the radiometric waves reflect off the mirror and shoot to different objective assemblies. 

Here’s a little fun fact for you, the MODIS instrument was what spotted the fire in the Amazon. Thanks to Terra and Aqua emergency services were able to respond to the fire and contain it before the fire became too dangerous to stop.

The system also includes four onboard calibrators as well as a view to space, a Solar Diffuser (SD), a v-groove Blackbody (BB), a Spectro radiometric calibration assembly (SRCA), and a Solar Diffuser Stability Monitor (SDSM). This satellite includes several more features on top of all of this. 

MODIS’ purpose is to scan atmospheric, land, and ocean changes, keep in mind MODIS is a singular instrument and it does those three tasks on its own. This satellite also has three different levels of spectral resolution bands, one at a 1,000m, one at 500m, and another at 250m. 

Even though MODIS sounds dated to most people today, NASA still uses these two satellites. They allow us to see our world in a different way, Terra and Aqua are always watching over our planet, constantly sending data and constantly running. 

MODIS is a truly remarkable instrument that was created twenty years ago and is remains vital to us. A constant Bird’s eye view.