Satellite images like this one help scientist on the VOCALS campaign. This picture shows patterns in clouds over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of the MODIS Science Team at NASA GSFC

Satellites in the VOCALS Field Campaign

Scientists use satellites in the VOCALS field campaign. They also gather data from instruments on ships and on airplanes. They put the data from the satellites, ships, and aircraft together to get a better idea of what's going on in the Southeast Pacific.

Satellites give VOCALS scientists lots of data about clouds and the atmosphere. Some satellites take pictures. The pictures show scientists where there are clouds and where the air is clear. Some satellites measure sunlight that bounces of clouds and back into space. Satellites also help scientists measure the wind and spot swarms of tiny aerosol particles. They also help scientist study water droplets in clouds.

Satellites also help measure things about the ocean. They tell us the temperature of the ocean and what ocean currents are like. They also measure the height of the ocean surface and even how much plankton is in the water! Scientists put these satellite measurements together with data gathered from ships.

Which satellites are used by VOCALS? There are a lot of them! Some of the main ones are from NASA. That includes the Terra, Aqua, CloudSat, and QuikSCAT satellites. There is also the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, which is from NASA and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). There is also GOES-10, which is from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.

Last modified September 22, 2008 by Randy Russell.

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What is VOCALS?

Sometimes scientists have to go far from home to find answers to their questions. Just like you, they have many questions, such as: What types of clouds form over the Pacific Ocean? What instruments should...more

Clouds That Have Pockets with Open Cells

Stratocumulus clouds can be found over the ocean in the Southeast Pacific region. These clouds sometimes contain open areas in the clouds that scientists call "pockets of open cells," or POCs....more

Earth's Radiation Budget

Light from the Sun shines on Earth. Some of that light reflects off clouds back into space. Some of the light makes it to the ground and warms our planet. The warm ground and oceans give off infrared (IR)...more


Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates the winds around the globe. Winds move at different speeds and have different names based on their speed....more

Aerosols: Tiny Particulates in the Air

When you look up at the sky, you are looking at more than just air. There are also billions of tiny bits of solid and liquid floating in the air. These tiny particles are called aerosols or particulates....more

How Clouds Form

A cloud is composed of tiny water droplets or ice crystals. A series of things have to happen in order for these water droplets or ice crystals to form into clouds in the atmosphere, and different types...more

Surface Ocean Currents

The water at the ocean surface is moved by powerful wind. The wind is able to move the top 400 meters of the ocean. This moving water is called surface ocean currents. Surface ocean currents form large...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA