Since the beginning of space remote sensing of the earth, there has been a natural progression widening the range of electromagnetic radiation used to sense the earth, and slowly, steadily increasing the spatial, spectral, and radiometric resolution of the measurements. There has also been a somewhat slower trend toward active measurements across the electromagnetic spectrum, motivated in part by increased resolution, but also by the ability to make new measurements. Active microwave instruments have been used to measure ocean topography, to study the land surface, and to study rainfall from space. Future NASA active microwave missions may add detail to the topographical studies, sense soil moisture, and better characterize the cryosphere. Only recently have active optical instruments been flown in space by NASA; however, there are currently several missions in development which will sense the earth with lasers and many more conceptual active optical missions which address the priorities of NASA's earth science program. Missions are under development to investigate the structure of the terrestrial vegetation canopy, to characterize the earth's ice caps, and to study clouds and aerosols. Future NASA missions may measure tropospheric vector winds and make vastly improved measurements of the chemical components of the earth's atmosphere.