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Science Focus

Google Earth is changing the way by which general public learn about and professionals research our planet. Here, based on the Google Earth, scientific research of NASA A-Train program is greatly enhanced. It visualizes and enhances the Earth information's synergy -- meaning that more information about the condition of the earth is obtained from the combined observations than would be possible from the sum of the observations taken independently.

A-Train is an afternoon satellite constellation, the succession of US and international satellites that follow each other, seconds to minutes apart, across the local afternoon equator crossing. The A-Train consists of the following satellites, in order of equator crossing: OCO (to be launched in 2008), Aqua, CloudSat, CALIPSO, PARASOL, and Aura. Flying in such formation increases the number of observations, validates observations, and enables coordination between science observations, resulting in a more complete virtual science platform of instruments. Each individual mission has its own objectives and will improve our understanding of aspects of the Earth’s climate. The real advantage of formation flying, however, as mentioned in the Introduction, is that the data from the various satellites are synergistic. See the following image for "A-Train family".

A-train satellite contstellation

Making all the data from the constellation, no matter 2D data and vertical data, visualize on a virtual globe will greatly increase the simulation of Earth phenomena.Scientists and general public can more vividly research and know about our planet and their concerned issues, such as weather forecast, global climate, evironment protection etc.

The research resultant orbit curtain makes vertical data viewable, transparently or opaquely, in Google Earth. Thus, three-dimensional science research data can be made available to scientists and the general public in a popular venue. Also, simultaneous visualization and efficient exploration of the relationships among quantitative geospatial data (e.g. comparing the vertical data profiles with MODIS, AIRS data and TRMM precipitation data) becomes possible.

The research allows combining vertical data together with other geospatial data for scientific research and allows better understanding of our planet. A key capability of the system is the ability to visualize and compare diverse, simultaneous data from different providers, revealing new information and knowledge that would otherwise be hidden.

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Last updated: May 27, 2010 04:34 PM ET