CIRES | Earth Science and Observation Center

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About ESOC

About ESOC

The Earth Science and Observation Center (ESOC), at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), is a research center dedicated to the understanding of the Earth System, primarily – but not exclusively - through the use of remote sensing techniques.    

Since the 1980s, the importance of understanding the Earth as a system has become widely recognized, and remote sensing, both from air and space, has been a fundamental tool for this purpose. By providing observations of individual and integrated processes at the appropriate scales, with the appropriate perspective, and in the appropriate context to enable the study of the various components of the Earth system and their interactions, remote sensing has provided some of the greatest advances in Earth system science.

It was the recognition of this potential that led to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth and the development of the Earth Observing System; it was this recognition that has produced key climate data records from NOAA satellites as well as Department of Defense satellites; it has been this recognition that has spawned numerous airborne remote sensing campaigns throughout the world to understand key elements of the Earth system; and it has been this recognition that has led governments all over the world to establish space-based and aircraft-based regional and global monitoring programs.

As the promise of such techniques began to evolve, The University of Colorado was at the forefront, establishing the Center for Earth Observation and Remote Sensing in 1985 under the leadership of its founding director, Alex Goetz. The center was renamed in 1988 to the Center for the Study of Earth from Space (CSES) to convey that its core functions were built around satellite-based remote sensing.

The new name (2009), Earth Science and Observation Center, is intended to convey a broader emphasis that includes the analysis of remote-sensing data, the validation of such data, the incorporation of these data into Earth system models, and the development of remote sensing tools and algorithms for a full array of platforms.

Our Mission

At ESOC, our mission is to advance scientific and societal understanding of the Earth System based on innovative remote sensing research. In so doing, we provide fundamental insights into:

  • How the Earth system functions.
  • How it is changing, and
  • What those changes mean for life on Earth…
  • for the benefit of human kind.

Our Vision

Our vision is that ESOC and its affiliates will transform human understanding of the planet on which we live; that our research and perspectives will influence the thinking and actions of scientific colleagues, policymakers, and the general public; and that our work will help people all over the world understand the connections among global and local actions and impacts.