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Celebrating Earth Day From The Sky

GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) -- Monday is Earth Day but, as Alex DeMetrick reports, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the Earth is the focus every day.

When the deputy director of NASA asks a question, you better know the answer. In this case, it's the team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, managing Landsat Eight. Forty-one years ago, the first Landsat went into orbit and ever since, they have been looking down, tracking changes from things like forest fires or rivers swelling into floods. They're joining a fleet of other weather and observation satellites studying earth and seeking threats.

"The space observations are critical to update the model to tell us where the hurricane is going," said Piers Sellers, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

And from space, it unlocks the mechanics of climate.

"We've been doing this for about 20 years with high resolution from space, observing the surface temperatures of the oceans," Sellers said.

It's more than an Earth Day show-and-tell.

"And the lives that are saved and the amount of information we have through operational weather satellites as driven by NASA research--you can't imagine life without it," said NASA Deputy Director Lori Garver.

Because this technology spans 40 years, it measures change.

"Oh, dramatic changes. The land surface of the earth is changing at rates unprecedented in human history," said Jim Irons, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Tracking what we and nature are doing to our planet has NASA committing to a number of new earth science missions in the decade ahead.

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