When we look into the vastness of space, our home planet stands out in many ways. One of the most crucial is the presence of abundant, accessible freshwater — as a liquid, solid and gas. Water helps make our planet habitable.

The first question NASA researchers studying freshwater on Earth ask is: Where is the water? As it constantly cycles between water vapor, rain and snow, and reservoirs above and below ground, water is tracked by a fleet of NASA satellites. Heat travels with that water, as energy from the Sun drives freshwater’s transformations between vapor, liquid water, and ice. As our planet warms due to greenhouse gases, scientists have a second pressing question: How is climate change affecting the distribution of water?

Music credit: Above It All by Tom Caffey [ASCAP] and Dark Fantasy by Brice Davoli [SACEM] Kathryn Mersmann (USRA): Lead Producer Ellen T. Gray (ADNET): Lead Writer Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Visualizer Katie Jepson (USRA): Producer Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Sound Editor

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio at: