ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station
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Welcome to ECOSTRESS

Current Status

On September 29th 2018 an anomaly was experienced on the ECOSTRESS instrument that halted science acquisitions. The anomaly resulted from the system no longer being able to write to Mass Storage Unit A (MSU-A). ECOSTRESS has two MSU's (MSU-A and MSU-B) that are part of the WIFI system. MSU-B provides redundancy and was tested for functionality during In Orbit Checkout in July. Work is underway to understand the cause of the anomaly and any possible implications for future acquisitions. Once the cause of the anomaly is understood, the plan is to switch data recording to MSU-B. In the event of a problem with MSU-B, ECOSTRESS can potentially live stream the data to the ISS and bypass the MSU's.

ECOSTRESS Data are now publicly available by signing up for the Early Adopter Program

Preview of current acquired data

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The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) will measure the temperature of plants and use that information to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to stress.

ECOSTRESS will address three overarching science questions:

  • How is the terrestrial biosphere responding to changes in water availability?
  • How do changes in diurnal vegetation water stress impact the global carbon cycle?
  • Can agricultural vulnerability be reduced through advanced monitoring of agricultural water consumptive use and improved drought estimation?
The ECOSTRESS mission will answer these questions by accurately measuring the temperature of plants. Plants regulate their temperature by releasing water through tiny pores on their leaves called stomata. If they have sufficient water they can maintain their temperature but if there is insufficient water their temperatures rise and this temperature rise  can  be measured with a sensor in space. ECOSTRESS will use a multispectral thermal infrared radiometer to measure the surface temperature. The radiometer that will be delivered to Houston for deployment on the International Space Station in 2018. The radiometer will acquire the most detailed temperature images of the surface ever acquired from space and will be able to measure the temperature of an individual farmers field.
One of the core products that will be produced by ECOSTRESS team is the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI). ESI is a leading drought indicator - it can indicate that plants are stressed and that a drought is likely to occur providing the option for decision makers to take action. The figure below illustrates the ESI for the United States during the 2012 drought. The red areas indicate regions of high water stress.

stress map

Figure 1. Map of the 2012 drought in the United States showing differences in water stress. Red areas indicate high water stress (drought conditions) and green areas indication low water stress (non-drought conditions).