The International Space Station, or ISS, is recognized worldwide as a testament to the ingenuity and drive of the human spirit and an inspiration to future astronauts. Through 2014, NASA aims to give the floating observation station even more tools to monitor the Earth. The additional hardware will give scientists much more data and a unique perspective from space. Typical Earth-orbiting satellites fly at altitudes above 400 miles up while the ISS operates around 240 up, meaning that it will give observers a whole new look at Earth from space, providing scientists a cross-reference for satellite observed imagery. "We're seeing the space station come into its own as an Earth-observing platform," said Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the International Space Station Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It has a different orbit than other Earth remote sensing platforms. It’s closer to Earth, and it sees Earth at different times of day with a different schedule. That offers opportunities that complement other Earth-sensing instruments in orbit today."
Started on September 19th, the first round of new equipment will be sent up with the Space X Commercial Resupply Services flights, adding the ISS-RapidScat, which will be used to better study ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions and hurricane monitoring. In total, there will be 6 new additions to the station, all aimed at giving us a better understanding of what is going on on our planet.