What We Do
NRO systems are critical to national security, U.S. policy makers and war fighters. NRO’s key customers and mission partners include: policy makers, Armed Services, the Intelligence Community, Departments of State, Justice and Treasury, and civil agencies. All of them depend on the unique capabilities NRO systems provide such as:
  • Monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Tracking international terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal organizations
  • Developing highly accurate military targeting data and bomb damage assessments
  • Supporting international peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations
  • Assessing the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and fires.
Together with other Defense Department satellites, NRO systems play a crucial role in providing global communications, precision navigation, early warning of missile launches, signals intelligence, and near real-time imagery to U.S. forces to support the war on terrorism and other continuing operations.

NRO information is fused with other data to support the warfighter. Specifically, NRO developed “Eagle Vision” and the “Joint Targeting Workstation” (JTW) for military users. Eagle Vision enables operators to electronically retrieve commercial imagery to complement NRO-derived imagery. The JTW merges more accurate national imagery with up-to-the-minute theatre reconnaissance photography, producing more precise targeting information. NRO also provides tools such as “Sensor to Shooter”, which places NRO satellite imagery into the cockpits of planes, this help pilots see targets before they engage them, increasing strike precision and minimizing collateral damage.

Another system, the Threat Human Intelligence Reporting Evaluation Analysis and Display System, (THREADS), correlates human intelligence with signals and imagery intelligence provided by NRO systems. NRO systems enable soldiers in a combat theater to identify, locate, and track hostile forces, or to suppress enemy air defenses. In Iraq and Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world, NRO is helping U.S. troops locate terrorists, find their weapons, and detect other threats.

NRO satellites also support civil customers in response to disaster relief and environmental research. Scientists created a global environmental database using NRO imagery to help predict climate change, assess crop production, map habitats of endangered species, track oil spills, and study wetlands. NRO data also forms the basis for products that help depict and assess the devastation in areas affected by natural disasters.

The NRO’s innovation also inspired technology in everyday life with contributions to medical imaging, global communications, high-definition television, cellular phones, the global positioning system (GPS), and much more.

Always vigilant, NRO’s eyes and ears in space give America’s policymakers, intelligence analysts, warfighters and homeland security specialists the critical information they need to keep America safe, secure, and free.