Monitoring Earth's Fragility (1990)

With the passing of Earth Day's 20th anniversary April 22nd, millions of Americans became more environmentally aware. Some have learned for the first time just how fragile this planet is and why each of us must help repair the human damage.

The Earth, with its interactions among the atmosphere, the oceans, and life, is the most complicated planet in the solar system. That is why NASA has studied the Earth from space almost from the beginning of the space program.

NASA scientists have observed and measured Earth's atmosphere, resources, oceans, land surface, climate and weather. Together with the living organisms, these elements make up the whole Earth system.

Continuing this study, NASA is launching and operating a variety of satellites for the task of “remote sensing.” These include the Nimbus-7 (environmental), ERBS (Earth radiation) and SEASAT (ocean).

Recently, NASA headed a team of scientists from several nations to study the loss of ozone above the polar regions.

This year, the U.S. begins a global-scale examination of the planet. The goal is a better scientific understanding of Earth as a system and how to protect it.