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Backgrounders are informational articles that explain key topics in Earth science and provide information that can aid in understanding how to use Earth science data and imagery.

Data Latency
Several factors affect the speed at which data are processed and made available to users. Here's how NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) defines data latency.

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Environmental Justice
When coupled with socioeconomic data about race, ethnicity, poverty, and health, NASA Earth observations can help identify environmental challenges that disproportionally impact specific communities.

Essential Variables
Essential variables are elements that are critical for observing and monitoring a given facet of Earth processes. Learn how they ensure the usability of data across multiple platforms and agencies.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a collection of computer-based tools for organizing information from a variety of data sources to map and examine changes on Earth.

Nighttime Lights
Remote sensing of nighttime light emissions offers a unique perspective to monitor human behaviors, such as electrification of remote areas, disaster recovery, and more.

Remote Sensing
Remote sensing is the acquisition of information from a distance. Read how remote sensors enable data-informed decision-making based on the current and future state of our planet.

Remote Sensors
Learn about the difference between active and passive remote sensing instruments.

logo of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as an aspiration for what United Nations member countries hope to ideally achieve in the future. Earth observations can be used in monitoring progress towards reaching each SDG goal.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an active data collection technique where a sensor produces its own energy and then records the amount of that energy reflected back after interacting with Earth.

Published November 5, 2020

Page Last Updated: Apr 8, 2022 at 3:49 PM EDT