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• How does NASA study the Water Cycle?


The Aqua mission


Aqua, Latin for water, is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission will be collecting about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables also being measured by Aqua include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures. This map shows AIRS (Atmosphere InfraRed Sounder) observations of "skin temperature" in degrees Fahrenheit at the Earth's surface. Skin temperature refers to the temperature of the surface layer of the Earth, in contrast to the meteorological definition of surface temperature measured by air thermometers which take readings at approximately 1 meter above ground level. Unlike temperatures in the atmosphere well away from the ground, surface skin temperature can experience large changes between day and night due to solar heating. This map is created by averaging the previous nighttime swaths with the most recent daytime swaths. Daily images can be found on the AQUA web site (see "more info" link).



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