There is an unprecedented array of new satellite technologies with capabilities for advancing our understanding of ecological processes and the changing composition of the Earth's biosphere at scales from local plots to the whole planet. We identified 48 instruments and 13 platforms with multiple instruments that are of broad interest to the environmental sciences that either collected data in the 2000s, were recently launched, or are planned for launch in this decade. We have restricted our review to instruments that primarily observe terrestrial landscapes or coastal margins and are available under free and open data policies. We focused on imagers that passively measure wavelengths in the reflected solar and emitted thermal spectrum. The suite of instruments we describe measure land surface characteristics, including land cover, but provide a more detailed monitoring of ecosystems, plant communities, and even some species then possible from historic sensors. The newer instruments have potential to greatly improve our understanding of ecosystem functional relationships among plant traits like leaf mass area (LMA), total nitrogen content, and leaf area index (LAI). They provide new information on physiological processes related to photosynthesis, transpiration and respiration, and stress detection, including capabilities to measure key plant and soil biophysical properties. These include canopy and soil temperature and emissivity, chlorophyll fluorescence, and biogeochemical contents like photosynthetic pigments (e.g., chlorophylls, carotenoids, and phycobiliproteins from cyanobacteria), water, cellulose, lignin, and nitrogen in foliar proteins. These data will enable us to quantify and characterize various soil properties such as iron content, several types of soil clays, organic matter, and other components. Most of these satellites are in low Earth orbit (LEO), but we include a few in geostationary orbit (GEO) because of their potential to measure plant physiological traits over diurnal periods, improving estimates of water and carbon budgets. We also include a few spaceborne active LiDAR and radar imagers designed for quantifying surface topography, changes in surface structure, and 3-dimensional canopy properties such as height, area, vertical profiles, and gap structure. We provide a description of each instrument and tables to summarize their characteristics. Lastly, we suggest instrument synergies that are likely to yield improved results when data are combined.