CERES - Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy Sytem - is a high priority
scientific satellite instrument which is now orbiting the Earth as part
of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (formerly known as Mission to Planet
Earth). Scientists are using it to study the ways in which clouds may
affect the Earth's climate. You can find detailed information on CERES at:
NASA lithograph (photo with explanation), and a
Fact Sheet about CERES are also available.
There are a number of CERES instruments flown in different orbits to
obtain measurements over the entire globe. The first CERES instrument
was launched on Thanksgiving Day, 1997. It was carried to orbit on a
Japanese rocket as part of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
The second and third CERES
instruments were launched on December 18,1999. These were carried to orbit
out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on the
Terra spacecraft. Terra
is the flagship of the Earth Observing System (EOS), a major international
program to monitor climate and environmental change on Earth over the next
15 years. Part of a series of EOS satellites, Terra will enable new research
into the ways that Earth's lands, oceans, air, ice, and life function as a
total environmental system.
The fourth and fifth CERES instruments are aboard the Aqua spacecraft, which was launched
on May 4, 2002. As its name indicates, this part of the Earth Observing
System is focused on looking at water in the Earth system.
Follow this link for an introduction to all the
satellites CERES is currently scheduled to fly on.
What is S'COOL?
S'COOL - Students' Cloud Observations On-Line - is a project which involves
school children in real science. They provide
ground truth measurements to assist in the validation of the CERES
instrument. They can also compare the surface- and space-based observations
to learn more about clouds and climate. Read a letter
describing the project to teachers in more detail.