Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) was a multi-channel scanning radiometer that flew on the Nimbus 7 satellite, operating from 1978 to 1986. The CZCS provided the first space-based measurements of ocean properties on a global scale.

The instrument measured reflected solar energy in six wavelengths, at a resolution of 800 meters. These measurements allowed researchers to map ocean chlorophyll concentrations, sediment distribution, salinity, and the temperature of coastal waters and ocean currents. It also stimulated international efforts to understand the ocean's role in the carbon cycle and assisted in creating models of the Earth's climate system.

This object is a flight spare, transferred from NASA to the Museum in 2017.

Collection Item Long Description:


Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from NASA


Aluminum, copper, plastic


Overall: 40.6 w × 55.9 h × 81.3 l cm (1 ft. 4 in. × 1 ft. 10 in. × 2 ft. 8 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number