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Proceedings Paper

NASA's Earth science flight program status
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Paper Abstract

NASA's strategic goal to "advance scientific understanding of the changing Earth system to meet societal needs" continues the agency's legacy of expanding human knowledge of the Earth through space activities, as mandated by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. Over the past 50 years, NASA has been the world leader in developing space-based Earth observing systems and capabilities that have fundamentally changed our view of our planet and have defined Earth system science. The U.S. National Research Council report "Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements" published in 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences articulates those key achievements and the evolution of the space observing capabilities, looking forward to growing potential to address Earth science questions and enable an abundance of practical applications. NASA's Earth science program is an end-to-end one that encompasses the development of observational techniques and the instrument technology needed to implement them. This includes laboratory testing and demonstration from surface, airborne, or space-based platforms; research to increase basic process knowledge; incorporation of results into complex computational models to more fully characterize the present state and future evolution of the Earth system; and development of partnerships with national and international organizations that can use the generated information in environmental forecasting and in policy, business, and management decisions. Currently, NASA's Earth Science Division (ESD) has 14 operating Earth science space missions with 6 in development and 18 under study or in technology risk reduction. Two Tier 2 Decadal Survey climate-focused missions, Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days and Seasons (ASCENDS) and Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT), have been identified in conjunction with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and initiated for launch in the 2019-2020 timeframe. NASA will begin refurbishment of the SAGE III atmospheric chemistry instrument to be hosted by the International Space Station (ISS) as early as 2013 and will initiate a Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow-on mission for launch in 2016.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 October 2010
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7826, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XIV, 78260T (13 October 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.865764
Show Author Affiliations
Steven P. Neeck, NASA Headquarters (United States)
Stephen M. Volz, NASA Headquarters (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7826:
Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XIV
Roland Meynart; Steven P. Neeck; Haruhisa Shimoda, Editor(s)

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