NASA is not alone in space!

NASA is not alone in space!

Everybody knows that NASA is responsible for exploring and researching space. But did you know that many other government agencies also deal with space?

artists conception of the goes-r weather satellite

Artist's conception of the GOES-R weather satellite. GOES-R will be operated by NOAA.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA studies the oceans and the atmosphere. They are interested in things like weather and climate here on Earth. A great way to get a clear picture of Earth is to look at it from high in space using a satellite. NOAA is in charge of a number of satellites. These satellites monitor weather on the ground.

photograph showing the launch of the rocket carying LandSat 8

The Launch of LandSat 8 on February 11th, 2013. LandSat 8 is operated by the USGS. It takes pictures of Earth from Space.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The agency that keeps you safe when you are flying in the United States is the FAA. They monitor all the planes in the sky. But they are also responsible for commercial space travel. Commercial space travel is any trip to space not run by a government. The FAA also makes sure these space flights are safe just like they do for regular flights.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The USGS studies the landscape of the United States. They map the United States’ natural resources and hazards. The USGS also has an interest in space. Satellites provide the USGS with pictures of Earth. USGS uses these pictures to create detailed maps.

The Department of Energy (DOE)

The DOE is responsible for dealing with anything that helps power homes and cities in the United States. But they are also responsible for powering things far away from the U.S.—things in the far off reaches of our Solar System! They have helped power things like the New Horizons mission. The New Horizon’s mission will make it all the way to Pluto by 2015!

artists conception of the DMSP satellite

Artist's conception of a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite. These satellites are used by the United States Strategic Comand to keep track of weather all around the world. They help the DoD plan military operations.

The Department of Defense (DoD)

The DoD is the part of the government in charge of all branches of the military. They also run many other groups that keep America safe. Space is a big part of the DoD. Satellites provide the DoD with a good view of almost anything on the ground.  They also help the government communicate around the globe. Many groups within the DoD study or use space. These include:

  • Air Force Space Command
  • The Missile Defense Agency
  • The National Reconnaissance Office
  • U.S. Strategic Command
  • Army Space and Missile Defense Command
  • The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Space Council

Humans often look out into the vast expanse of space from the ground. But there are hundreds of satellites looking down at us from space. It takes a lot of people to keep track of all those satellites zipping around our planet!

article last updated May 6, 2015
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