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The Earth Observing System (EOS) instrument teams must validate the operational products they produce from the Terra spacecraft data. As a pilot for future validation activities, four EOS teams (MODIS, MISR, ASTER, and Landsat-7) and community experts conducted an 11-day field campaign in May 1997 near Las Cruces, NM. The goals of the Prototype Validation Exercise (PROVE) included (1) gaining experience in the collection and use of field data for EOS product validation; (2) developing coordination, measurement, and data-archiving protocols; and (3) compiling a synoptic land and atmospheric data set for testing algorithms. PROVE was held at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Jornada Experimental Range, and expansive desert plateau hosting a complex mosaic of grasses and shrubs. Most macroscopic variables affecting the radiation environment were measured with ground, air-borne (including AVIRIS and laser altimeter), and space-borne sensors (including AVHRR, Landsat TM, SPOT, POLDER, and GOES). The Oak Ridge Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) then used campaign data sets to prototype Mercury, its Internet-based data harvesting and distributing system. This article provides general information about PROVE and assesses the progress made toward the campaign goals. Primary successes included the rapid campaign formulation and execution, measurement protocol development, and the significant collection, reduction, and sharing of data among participants. However, the PROVE data were used primarily for arid-land research and model validation rather than for validating satellite products, and the data were slow to reach the DAAC and hence public domain. The lessons learned included: (1) validation campaigns can be rapidly organized and implemented if there are focused objectives and on-site facilities and expertise; (2) data needs, organization, storage, and access issues must be addressed at the onset of campaign planning; and (3) the end-to-end data collection release, and publication environment may need to be readdressed by program managers, funding agencies, and journal editors if rapid and comprehensive validation of operational satellite products is to occur.