I know there are some satellites in space that monitor specific things in order for us to be able to forecast the weather. Next to this I would like to know what other elements (mostly related to nature) do satellites monitor on earth? Deforestation?

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    $\begingroup$ A lot of things actually. As this stands, this is a very broad question, do you mind being a bit more specific? $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 26 '16 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto, I am really not familiar with ecology, nature etc... I would like to know what they monitor related to nature which might be interesting data for renewable energy systems. A list of very general things related to nature would already please me actually. If you have a tip about how I could edit my question go ahead. :) $\endgroup$ – privetDruzia Jan 26 '16 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ That would probably be specific enough. Ask how satellites can determine the best location to place renewable energy power centers, or even better, specific ones. You can edit your question to add in that extra detail. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 26 '16 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ IIRC spectrograms from visual and IR images can be used to check vegetation (both the type of vegetation and its state of health), but I don't have a link right now. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jan 26 '16 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ Water levels, variations in gravity, erosion, the list is long and varied. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_sensing $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jan 26 '16 at 21:18

Deforestation, sea levels (Jason), snow/ice cover(JPSS), amount of water vapor in the air (JPSS, GOES), lightning (GOES), cloud cover (JPSS, GOES), forest fires (JPSS, GOES), geomagnetic storms (DSCOVR), ozone levels (Jason)...

I'm sure there is a bunch of other stuff that I'm forgetting.

These are mostly NOAA operated satellites (though I think they have some NASA instruments on them). They are mostly weather / atmospheric science related.

Here are some link you might find interesting:



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  • $\begingroup$ Thx for your answer, thats what I wanted. Is there any of those monitored things that directly relate to renewable energy? $\endgroup$ – privetDruzia Jan 26 '16 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Define "directly related". There is a lot of climate change related science that's conducted based on the data gathered by those satellites. I guess that's somewhat related. Maybe sunshine maps are created based on those observations? $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Jan 26 '16 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ I have a hard time to express what I want. I am actually interested in knowing what data people in charge of renenwable energy(solar, wind, etc..) could use that is gathered by satellites. $\endgroup$ – privetDruzia Jan 26 '16 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ That is clear enough I think. Just create a new question for it. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Jan 26 '16 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ space.stackexchange.com/questions/13720/… $\endgroup$ – privetDruzia Jan 26 '16 at 20:42

I want to expand on the answer of ventsyv by listing the capabilities of earth observation satellites operated by the European Space Agency.

Sentinel fleet, part of Copernicus Programme

  • Radar imaging of land and ocean (2x Sentinel-1, 2 more planned)
  • Multi-spectral optical imaging for land services (e.g. imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas) (2x Sentinel-2)
  • Surface temperature, imaging spectrometer, radar topography measurements, water vapour, thermal radiation, laser ranging (2x Sentinel-3, 2 more planned)
  • Atmospheric composition monitoring (Sentinel-4, part of Meteosat Third Generation, 2 planned, first launch in 2023)
  • Atmospheric composition monitoring (Sentinel-5, part of Meteorological Operational Satellite - Second Generation, planned launch in 2022)
  • Global sea surface height (Sentinel-6, 2 planned, first launch 2020)


  • Monitoring of polar ice caps/ ice thickness

Envisat, end of mission 8 April 2012

  • Water vapour (MWR)
  • Sea surface temperature (AATSR)
  • Atmospheric pressure and temperature profiles, Profiles of trace gases (MIPAS)
  • Reflectance of the Earth (surface and atmosphere) (MERIS)
  • Concentration of trace gases and aerosols in the troposphere and stratosphere (SCIAMACHY)
  • Ocean topography, sea ice and land heights (RA-2)
  • Surface heights (ASAR)
  • Ozone (GOMOS)
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