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Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR)

STAR uses innovative science and applications to transform satellite observations into meaningful information essential to society’s evolving environmental, security, and economic decision-making.

Remote sensing data, including satellite observations, in its raw form can’t be used right away. That’s where the Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) comes in. As NOAA Satellite’s science arm, our scientists use the latest in scientific understanding and technological advancement to decode and transform data into a form that is understandable, accessible, and translatable and can be used to aid in decision making and provide societal benefit.

STAR works closely with partners (whether at NOAA, academic institutions, international organizations, and elsewhere) to understand our Earth System Science-based solutions can be used to address societal and user needs. Our research activities are integral to understanding and extracting the best and most useful information from our satellites, information that supports the implementation of all of NOAA’s mission service areas.

Our Leadership

Dr. Douglas A. Howard
Director, Center for Satellite Applications & Research
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Kristen Tronvig
Deputy Director, Center for Satellite Applications & Research
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Satellite Oceanography & Climatology Division (SOCD)

SOCD conducts research and development of remote sensing data, derived products, and applications for ocean, coastal, and inland waters.This includes calibration/validation and data merging/fusing of multi-sensor data, and distribution of data products and information via its CoastWatch / OceanWatch / PolarWatch and Coral Reef Watch programs to diverse users and stakeholders.

Satellite Meteorology & Climatology Division (SMCD)

SMCD conducts research and development of Earth System Science-based solutions to improve and expand the use of remote sensing data for monitoring global meteorological, environmental, and climatological conditions.

Resource Management Division (RMD)

RMD is responsible for the stewardship of financial, human, and physical resources and performs tasks such as establishing budgets, internal controls, and administrative policies and procedures.

Our Partners

STAR partners with other NOAA programs, federal agencies, academic institutions, and external organizations to conduct research and activities that support our mission and objectives. Some of our partners include:


  • European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
  • United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UK Met Office)
  • European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
  • Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA)
  • Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

Partnering Cooperative Institutes

NOAA partners with academic and nonprofit institutions throughout the country to conduct research and perform tasks that support its mission and goals. Known as Cooperative Institutes, these partnerships are often co-located with NOAA research laboratories, creating a strong collaboration between scientists and their university counterparts. Those Cooperative Institutes not colocated within a NOAA lab often serve diverse research communities and programs. STAR partners with several Cooperative Institutes, including the following

  • Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS)
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
  • Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA)
    Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
  • Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS)
    University of Maryland, College Park, MD and North Carolina State University, Asheville, NC

CoastWatch/OceanWatch Nodes 

  • Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Nodes - NOAA Research / Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories (AOML)
  • Great Lakes Node - NOAA Research / Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL)
  • West Coast Node and PolarWatch - NOAA Fisheries / Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC)
  • East Coast Node - NOAA National Ocean Service / National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)
  • Central Pacific Node - NOAA Fisheries / Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)
  • Water Node - NOAA National Weather Service / National Water Center

Federal Agencies

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)


Our staff work across the country, including at:

  • NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Maryland
  • University of Maryland-College Park in College Park, Maryland
  • Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, Colorado
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in Wisconsin, Madison