July 2021 Heat Wave Ground Temperature
On July 8, NASA's ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) instrument captured ground surface temperature data over California. In the image, areas in red – including Death Valley – had surpassed 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) by 7:16 a.m. local time, well above average ground surface temperatures for the area.
Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress, ECOSTRESS's primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like heat waves, wildfires, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station's unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.
The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.