Media & Educational Outreach

20 Years of Ocean Color

For the last 20 years, NASA Earth observing satellites have been capturing, from space, one thing that makes Earth unique among the thousands of other worlds we have discovered: Life. In the Northern Hemisphere, ecosystems on land wake up in the spring, taking in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen as they sprout leaves - and a fleet of Earth-observing satellites tracks the spread of the newly green vegetation. Meanwhile, in the oceans, microscopic plants drift through the sunlit surface waters and bloom into billions of carbon dioxide-absorbing organisms - and are detected by instruments on satellites that map the swirls of their color.

This new animation captures the entirety of our 20-year record, made possible by multiple satellites, compressing a decades-long view of life on Earth into a captivating few minutes.


Deploying the Wirewalker

Scientists lower the Wirewalker, an platform carrying instrument package designed to take numerous water-column measurements (e.g., temperature, salinity, oxygen, phytoplankton numbers, carbon concentration). Package travels up and down a 150-meter-long wire situated between a drifting surface buoy and sediment traps. Sediment traps are collecting sinking particles (exported particles), measured later in the laboratory for their chemical and biological content.