Designed to capture high-resolution images of Earth, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument is one of five instruments aboard NASA's Terra satellite. The instrument's data are used to create detailed maps of land surface temperature, emissivity, reflectance and elevation on Earth.
Images taken by the ASTER instrument also provide detailed views of the effects of global climate change and extreme weather on Earth's landforms and topography.
June 29, 2009: NASA and Japan release the ASTER Global Digital Elevation Model, a digital topographic map of Earth covering more of the planet than ever before.
ASTER has gathered high-resolution images of landforms and topography affected by major weather events on Earth, including tsunamis, earthquakes and floods, as well as land changes due to global climate change.