ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) is an imaging instrument flying on Terra, a satellite launched in December 1999 as part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS). ASTER is a cooperative effort between NASA, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Japan's Earth Remote Sensing Data Analysis Center (ERSDAC). ASTER is being used to obtain detailed maps of land surface temperature, reflectance and elevation.
The ASTER instrument provides the next generation in remote sensing imaging capabilities compared with the older Landsat Thematic Mapper, and Japan's JERS-1 OPS scanner. ASTER captures high spatial resolution data in 14 bands, from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelengths; and provides stereo viewing capability for digital elevation model creation. As the "zoom lens" for Terra, ASTER data are used by other Terra and space-borne instruments for validation and calibration.
Michael Abrams Earth Surface and Interior - US ASTER Science Team Leader