ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station
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Welcome to ECOSTRESS

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News Flash: ECOSTRESS has now acquired over 180,000 scenes (after In Orbit Checkout)

ECOSTRESS is addressing  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 is answering 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 ECOSTRESS.  The images acquired by ECOSTRESS are the most detailed temperature images of the surface ever acquired from space and can be used 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. 

NASA's ECOSTRESS imaged a drought in Poland

Poland Drought

NASA's ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) imaged high plant stress conditions in southern Poland on April 12th, 2020. The country had been facing drought conditions for the entire month, according to Poland's meteorological service, IMGW-PIB, "one of the worst situations in the history of hydrological measurements in the country, which have been made for over a hundred years."

The ECOSTRESS L4 Evaporative Stress Index (L4) product was used to assess the Polish drought. In this image, most of the map covered in deep red, indicating high plant water stress, particularly in the agricultural areas. Areas of blue in the northwest corner of the image indicate relatively low plant stress in the forests, which could access deeper stores of water.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Future studies could use ECOSTRESS data products in a similar fashion as ESI was used to assess the drought pictured above.

For information on Earth science activities aboard the International Space Station, visit: 

https://www.nasa.gov/issearthscience