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There is no question that satellite derived vegetation indices, such as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), have been most successful in studying vegetation dynamics globally. Their continuity since the early 1970s and 1980s has been a major accomplishment of NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth, providing an indispensable understanding of the role of vegetation in the climate system. This was undreamed of when Compton J. Tucker came to NASA GSFC in 1975 as a National Academy of Sciences postdoctoral fellow. He will share experiences and lessons learned over three decades while studying global land vegetation.