4
Short Reports

During 1999, the Space Studies Board and its committees issued three short reports, which this section presents in full in chronological order of release.

4.1 Assessment of NASA’s Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions

On April 8, 1999, Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares, Post-2002 Chair Marvin A. Geller, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Co-chairs Eric J. Barron and James R. Mahoney, and Board on Sustainable Development Chair Edward A. Frieman sent a letter report to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Earth Science.

I. INTRODUCTION

The Task Group on Assessment of NASA’s Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions (Appendix A) was formed in response to a request from NASA’s Office of Earth Science (Appendix B). The Associate Administrator for the Office of Earth Science (OES) requested a fast-track review of NASA’s proposed mission scenario (Appendix C) for Earth observing missions during the period from 2003 to 2010. Within the National Research Council (NRC), the study was organized by the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, the Board on Sustainable Development, and the Space Studies Board, thereby providing a direct link through membership with the NRC units that had published reports with particular relevance to planning for post-2002 Earth observing missions.

Background materials were distributed in advance to the task group; however, given NASA’s deadline for completion of work, the task group could meet only once, on February 10-11, 1999. On February 10, the task group held briefings with representatives from NASA; NOAA and the NPOESS (National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System) Integrated Program Office; the U.S. Global Change Research Program; the Office of Management and Budget; and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The task group also held discussions with the chairs of three recent NRC studies pertinent to the current assessment and with several of the authors of the Easton workshop report 1 that evaluated NASA’s post-2002 mission scenario (Appendix D shows

1  

Charles Kennel et al., Report of the Workshop on NASA Earth Science Enterprise Post-2002 Missions, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., November 12, 1998. Referred to as the Easton workshop report and frequently as the Kennel report, it is available online at < http://www.earth.nasa.gov/visions/Easton/index.html >.



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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 4 Short Reports During 1999, the Space Studies Board and its committees issued three short reports, which this section presents in full in chronological order of release. 4.1 Assessment of NASA’s Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions On April 8, 1999, Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares, Post-2002 Chair Marvin A. Geller, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Co-chairs Eric J. Barron and James R. Mahoney, and Board on Sustainable Development Chair Edward A. Frieman sent a letter report to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Earth Science. I. INTRODUCTION The Task Group on Assessment of NASA’s Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions (Appendix A) was formed in response to a request from NASA’s Office of Earth Science (Appendix B). The Associate Administrator for the Office of Earth Science (OES) requested a fast-track review of NASA’s proposed mission scenario (Appendix C) for Earth observing missions during the period from 2003 to 2010. Within the National Research Council (NRC), the study was organized by the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, the Board on Sustainable Development, and the Space Studies Board, thereby providing a direct link through membership with the NRC units that had published reports with particular relevance to planning for post-2002 Earth observing missions. Background materials were distributed in advance to the task group; however, given NASA’s deadline for completion of work, the task group could meet only once, on February 10-11, 1999. On February 10, the task group held briefings with representatives from NASA; NOAA and the NPOESS (National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System) Integrated Program Office; the U.S. Global Change Research Program; the Office of Management and Budget; and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The task group also held discussions with the chairs of three recent NRC studies pertinent to the current assessment and with several of the authors of the Easton workshop report 1 that evaluated NASA’s post-2002 mission scenario (Appendix D shows 1   Charles Kennel et al., Report of the Workshop on NASA Earth Science Enterprise Post-2002 Missions, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., November 12, 1998. Referred to as the Easton workshop report and frequently as the Kennel report, it is available online at < http://www.earth.nasa.gov/visions/Easton/index.html >.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 the meeting agenda and lists all presenters). Task group deliberations began on February 11 and continued informally via e-mail and telephone. According to NASA officials, the rapid timetable for completion of the task group’s work was necessary to provide guidance on upcoming budget submissions, technology development efforts for post-2002 missions, and potential negotiations with international partners. The task group notes, and NASA officials acknowledged, the obvious limitations imposed by the rapid timetable for completion of the study. As a result, the task group regards the assessments in this report as preliminary and recommends a number of essential follow-up assessment activities. The task group’s charge (Appendix B) included consideration of the following topics: The extent to which the mission set contributes to a coherent overall program that addresses important science themes and priorities, The responsiveness of the missions to scientific priorities identified in recent relevant NRC reports, Broad aspects of balance between various Earth science discipline areas, General technical and programmatic feasibility, Identification of major scientific or technical problems implicit in the mission scenario, and Evaluation of the efficacy of the process employed by NASA to solicit ideas and to distill them to frame the proposed mission set. NASA’s post-2002 mission plans were an output of the Easton workshop process. As discussed in the report of the workshop, this process began with an RFI (Request for Information). Through the RFI, NASA informed potential respondents of its intention to promote a program of smaller satellite missions with shorter implementation times from inception to launch in order to respond more quickly to new research priorities and to reduce the risk to program objectives from any single mission failure. One hundred responses were received, roughly half from NASA centers. Six disciplinary panels covering complementary domains of Earth system science reviewed the submissions and integrated them into 23 mission concepts. These were analyzed by NASA technical staff and an industrial contractor, and estimated implementation costs were developed. NASA convened a workshop involving 150 participants in late August 1998 in Easton, Maryland, to review and amend the mission scenario. At the Easton workshop, the responses to the RFI were reviewed by both disciplinary and interdisciplinary panels. Prior to the workshop three categories of NASA Earth-observing missions were defined: EOS follow-on missions for systematic measurements of critical parameters, Earth Probe missions for exploratory research or focused process studies, and Pre-operational instrument development to provide new or more capable sensors for operational observing systems. The RFI was circulated by NASA to the community with a 6-week response deadline. The Easton workshop was held 10 weeks later, using the RFI responses as a significant input. The report of the Easton workshop was completed approximately 2 months later. To formulate complex program plans on such a short time scale (see Box 1 ), NASA necessarily built on the very extensive heritage of NRC and NASA studies and reports, as well as 10 years of EOS Science Team operations. NASA, the USGCRP, and the NRC Pathways Report The task group’s evaluation of the process and outcomes of the Easton workshop relies heavily on the recent NRC publication, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. 2 This approach is consistent with NASA’s intent to rely on Pathways for guidance during the Easton process; it also conforms to the charge for this review. It is important to recognize, however, that the sponsor and audience for the Pathways report are broader than NASA. Indeed, Pathways provides a comprehensive review and scientific framework for future directions in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). As discussed below, some of what the task 2   National Research Council, Board on Sustainable Development, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade, prepublication copy, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 BOX1 NASA and NRC Milestones Relevant to Post-2002 Mission Planning NASA RFI Announced April 10, 1998 NRC Pathways Report Overview Volume, with Recommendations and Research Imperatives, Published May 19, 1998 NRC “NPOESS and Climate Change” Letter Report 1 Published May 27, 1998 NASA Deadline for Submission of Post-2002 Era EOS Mission Concepts June 8, 1998 NASA Panel Review of Submissions Mid-June 1998 NASA Workshop at Easton, Maryland August 24-26, 1998 Easton Workshop Results Available for Program Formulation Early September 1998 NRC Report, The Atmospheric Sciences: Entering the Twenty-First Century, Published October 22, 1998 Easton Workshop Report (“Kennel Report”) Published November 12, 1998 NRC Pathways Full Report Prepublication Release November 13, 1998 NRC Post-2002 Task Group Meets February 10-11, 1999 NRC Report, Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems, Published February 26, 1999 NRC Post-2002 Letter Report Target Date for Publication March 15, 1999 1National Research Council, Space Studies Board, "On Climate Change Research Measurements from NPOESS," letter report to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA, and Mr. Robert S. Winokur, NOAA, May 27, 1998. This letter report may be viewed at < http://www.nas.edu/ssb/npoess.htm > . group perceives as shortcomings in the Easton process are, in fact, reflections of larger problems within the USGCRP. The USGCRP was established in 1989 and codified by Congress “to provide for development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.” 3 This effort requires planning and coordinating research and policy development interests of several U.S. government departments and agencies, including the Executive Office of the President. 4 Thus, the USGCRP provides a mechanism for obtaining the necessary scientific knowledge to document global change phenomena and enabling informed decision making on potential response strategies. These responses include such international agreements as the Montreal Protocol and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The importance of NASA’s role in the USGCRP cannot be overstated. For example, NASA’s role in understanding the causes of global and polar stratospheric ozone depletion stands as one of the outstanding scientific accomplishments of the last two decades. In addition, the agency’s development and implementation of satellite altimetry and scatterometry have made today’s approach to global oceanography possible. Overall, NASA accounts for nearly 75 percent of the resources made available under the USGCRP, with some 60 percent devoted to 3   Public Law 101-606, 1990. The text of this act is reproduced as Appendix A of the Pathways report. See footnote 4. 4   Overall direction and executive oversight of the USGCRP are provided by the interagency Subcommittee on Global Change Research of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Representatives to the USGCRP include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology), Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services (the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences), Interior, Transportation, and State as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the intelligence community, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 space-based observation programs. 5 Thus, NASA’s directions in Earth science during the first part of the next century will be pivotal in determining the success of the USGCRP and in international global change programs such as the World Climate Research Programme, the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, and the International Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme. II. SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMEDATIONS Although the results of the initial planning phase have merit, the development of a coherent overall EOS program depends on the development of a fully integrated science plan. To ensure a balanced and coherent strategy that will elucidate the key mechanisms thought to underlie global change phenomena, the task group recommends that NASA develop the science plan with the participation of USGCRP agencies and the academic scientific community and in consultation with international partners. While the task group believes that NASA’s plan for the post-2002 missions tries to be responsive to broad aspects of Pathways, the NASA planning effort needs to be refocused on addressing the major unanswered scientific questions specified in Pathways. The task group believes that the results of the Easton workshop gave a mission set that is balanced among the disciplines; however, it has concerns regarding other, more important aspects of balance, especially the balance between space-based and in situ observations. The vital role of research and analysis (R&A) programs in developing an effective program of research must also be acknowledged, and specific plans for linking R&A programs with post-2002 mission plans should be developed. The task group agrees with NASA that a successful transition of certain EOS observations to NPOESS would realize many benefits. It would be premature, however, to place sole reliance on this strategy for key global change time series. The task group also notes that sole reliance on NPOESS for crucial global change science time series would preclude achieving the objectives, noted in Pathways and endorsed by NASA, of developing principal investigator-led, technologically agile, missions. No federal entity is currently the “agent” for climate or longer-term observations and analyses, nor has the “virtual agency” envisioned in the USGCRP succeeded in this function. The task group endorses NASA’s call for a high-level process to develop a national policy to ensure that the long-term continuity and quality of key data sets required for global change research are not compromised in the process of merging research and operational data sets. The task group recommends that NASA establish a broadly based Science Integration Team charged with developing the requirements for data integration and for reviewing NASA’s plans for sensor design, data acquisition, and data management to determine if they are consistent with expected scientific uses of the data. This Science Integration Team should build upon the science plan that is to be developed (see first recommendation above). Constrained by a tight publication deadline and the absence of a detailed post-2002 science plan, the task group was unable to conduct a thorough analysis of the data set characteristics to be acquired (as opposed to the variables to be measured) in NASA’s mission scenario. III. TASK GROUP ASSESSMENTS The extent to which the mission set contributes to a coherent overall program that addresses important science themes and priorities. NASA has identified five science thematic areas that reflect some of the scientific directions identified in the NRC Pathways and The Atmospheric Sciences Entering the Twenty-First Century 6 reports, and that draw on the 5   See Appendix A, “The Proposed USGCRP Budget for FY99,” in Our Changing Planet: The FY1999 U.S. Global Change Research Program, U.S. Global Change Research Program Office, Washington, D.C., 1998. 6   National Research Council, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, The Atmospheric Sciences: Entering the Twenty-First Century, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 existing EOS science plan. 7 The themes identified by NASA are climate change and variability, the global carbon cycle, the global water cycle, atmospheric composition and ozone, and solid Earth and natural hazards. The proposed mission set tries to address the science priorities in NASA’s themes, taking into account the scientific imperatives in Pathways and other recent NRC reports. The experiments proposed will make major contributions to key science and applications problems such as: Climate change detection and attribution; Marine and terrestrial carbon sources and sinks; Seasonal to interannual climate variability; Changes to atmospheric ozone; Water resources, flood hazards, and severe storm impacts; and Ecosystem management, deforestation, and agriculture. However, embedded in the mission set are issues such as data continuity, instrument calibration and validation, and data simultaneity. The task group could not determine if such issues had been adequately considered. The proposed mission set has a strong heritage in previous EOS missions, and several important new records will also be initiated, including global precipitation, ocean circulation and terrestrial hydrology (estimated from gravity measurements), and biomass in regrowing forests. These missions have the potential to yield entirely new information on Earth system components. Clearly, however, a more deliberate planning process is needed to identify data gaps and scientific opportunities that remain after this initial planning stage. Plans for continuation of important data records begun in the first series of EOS missions need a rigorous assessment to ensure that the strategy will meet long-term continuity requirements for Earth science. Quite possibly, major changes in the mission plans will be needed as a consequence of this next stage of planning. Furthermore, new measurements of immense scientific value may be possible in the coming decade, including, for example, additional tropospheric species, three-dimensional winds, and CO2 vertical profiles. These and other opportunities would complement the existing program. The development of a coherent overall EOS program depends on the development of a fully integrated science plan. This plan must identify or address: Instrument synergism (i.e., which experiments should overlap in the same time period); NASA’s contributions to the major scientific questions and priorities outlined by Pathways and other recent NRC reports (those listed in Box 1 ); The interagency partnerships and collaborations necessary to address these issues and priorities, including the balance between in situ and satellite-based measurements; The role of international partners; An assessment of the overall characteristics of the data sets and their suitability for addressing key scientific questions and priorities; Data management; The role of field studies, data assimilation, and modeling studies; Balance and integration of long-term, consistent observations and exploratory efforts; and Potential uses of observations and data in applications. This science plan is crucial for mission planning and for gaining strong support from the Earth sciences community. NASA expects to complete its science plan for the post-2002 missions by September 1999. 8 The integration of the missions into a consistent set has to be addressed in the science plan, which then would also set conditions for the time line of the missions, data management, and modeling. Timing will be crucial for those missions where achieving maximum science benefit requires that observations from different missions be combined. 7   The 1994 EOS Science Strategy can be viewed at < http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/scistrategy/Contents.html >. More recent EOS science publications can be found at < http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eoshomepage/scipubs.html >. 8   NASA began work on a science plan in 1998. However, officials told the task group that completion of the plan was postponed because of the urgency to develop the post-2002 missions.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 The task group expects the science plan to draw from the EOS science plan, address the detailed recommendations given in Pathways and other recent NRC reports, and take note of Decision 14 at the COP4 of UNFCCC in Buenos Aires. 9 The task group recommends that the science plan to underpin the mission set be developed in an open and deliberative process involving the full range of scientific disciplines and a diverse set of potential users. To ensure a balanced and coherent strategy that will elucidate the key mechanisms thought to underlie global change phenomena, the task group recommends that NASA develop the science plan with the participation of USGCRP agencies and the academic scientific community and in consultation with international partners. In addition to experts in the various disciplines, NASA should involve scientists who understand the human role and the socioeconomic and health impacts of the designated priority science and applications problems. Certainly, a very significant part of the science plan should address how the individual mission data streams will be merged and how modeling and assimilation systems will be applied. NASA’s observation strategy must be tied to a data management strategy if the scientific goals of the EOS program are to be achieved. NASA’s plan to rely on its Federation concept for data production and management coupled with the planned change toward greater emphasis on a PI (principal investigator) mode of operation raises a number of issues related to how a long-term data record, and concurrent calibration and instrument performance metadata, will be guaranteed. While this letter report focuses on the transition to the “NPOESS era,” the problem of how to ensure data continuity is broader and includes, for example, the issue of how to introduce innovations into the data management system while maintaining continuous records. The responsiveness of the missions to scientific priorities identified in recent relevant NRC reports. The task group reviewed NASA’s plan for post-2002 missions based on provided text material, presentations by NASA and NPOESS personnel, and with reference to the recent NRC reports noted below, especially the Pathways report: “On Climate Change Research Measurements from NPOESS,” letter, May 1998; The Atmospheric Sciences: Entering the Twenty-First Century, October 1998; Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade, prepublication copy, November 1999 (the Pathways report); and Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems, February 1999. The authors of NASA’s Report of the Workshop on NASA Earth Science Enterprise Post-2002 Missions (the Easton workshop report, also known as the Kennel report) found “the 1995 La Jolla review and this 1998 [RFI to Easton] process and workshop responsive to the National Academy of Sciences’ Pathways report” (p. 25). Indeed, the task group concurs that the RFI and the outcome of the Easton workshop were consistent with important elements of Pathways. Specifically, the RFI notified respondents of NASA’s intent to promote a program of smaller satellite missions with a shorter implementation time; NASA has stated that post-2002 mission development and selection will be science-driven; NASA intends to emphasize PI-led missions in its post-2002 planning; post-2002 mission scenarios have a “systematic” measurement component for acquisition of long time series; and NASA has several programs to infuse new technology into Earth observation programs. However, the task group finds that there is much more work to be done for NASA to be responsive to the full set of standards set by the Pathways report, both in planning and in implementing the Pathways recommendations. For example, the Pathways report advocates a USGCRP scientific strategy—including supporting observational, data management, and analysis activities—that is: Agile—to enable timely response to technological changes or to changing research priorities; Focused—to enable progress on answering specific, central scientific questions about global change phenomena; and 9   United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Jan. 20, 1999, Report of the Conference of the Parties on Its Fourth Session Held at Buenos Aires From 2 to 14 November 1998, Addendum, Decisions Adopted By The Conference Of The Parties, Decision 14/CP.4, Research and Systematic Observation, p. 56. Available at < http://cop4.unfccc.de/ > or as Appendix E in National Research Council, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 Coherent—to enable a balanced (e.g., space-based and in situ) and integrated, interagency response to global change issues. The task group believes that the Easton process mostly addresses only the first element above (via its call for “agility, responsiveness and a PI mode of operation”). Deficiencies in the latter two elements can be traced to the rapidity of the Easton process, the absence of a completed science plan, and the need for further integration with the USGCRP. Although the full Pathways report, with detailed information on research and observations in each thematic area, was not available at the time of the Easton workshop, the published Overview volume presented the full set of Scientific Questions from which it should have been possible to elaborate a “focused” and “coherent” effort. The task group believes that the Easton process was hampered by its abbreviated timetable. NASA intended its solicitation to reach the broad scientific community; the task group fully supports this strategy. However, the rapidity of the process—especially the initial 6-week phase—may not have facilitated the desired response. The task group notes that fully 50 percent of the RFI responses were from NASA centers. Nevertheless, it also notes that some very exciting proposals emerged from the RFI. With careful structure, an earlier announcement, and a longer period for community response to the RFI, an improved solicitation and planning cycle should be achievable within an approximately 1-year period and is recommended for the future. The Pathways report outlines a research framework across the wide scope of global environmental changes in terms of the following primary topical areas: Changes in the Biology and Biogeochemistry of Ecosystems, Change in the Climate System on Seasonal to Interannual Timescales (S-I), Changes in the Climate System on Decadal to Century Timescales (Dec-Cen), Changes in the Chemistry of the Atmosphere, Paleoclimate, and Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. The discussion of each of these six primary topical areas is structured in terms of Research Imperatives—central issues posed to the corresponding scientific community by the challenge of global environmental change. Each research imperative is addressed by a set of Scientific Questions posed at a level of detail from which an observational program, space-based and in situ, can be defined, refined, and realized. The NASA themes do not directly correspond to the Pathways themes, and the specific questions discussed in Pathways were not the basis of a rigorous evaluation of the proposed missions during the Easton process. More importantly, Pathways calls for an integrated and balanced program of in situ and space-based measurements together with modeling, theory, and process studies. Noting the USGCRP’s central contributions to science-driven programs, Pathways also includes recommendations related to enhancing the research and analysis (R&A) component of a restructured national strategy for Earth observations. 10 The Easton process was a NASA-sponsored exercise that could not address some of these important issues and did not address others. In fact, the creation of a fully integrated program, as called for in Pathways, represents a major challenge to all of the USGCRP agencies and their scientific partners. Perhaps the most serious deficiency in NASA’s post-2002 mission scenario relates to missions intended to support research on long-term processes in the Earth system. The global change program is fundamentally a research program on how Earth may change in the future on time scales of years to decades and longer. Historically, NASA has seen its role as an agent to develop research instrumentation that can become operational to permit agencies such as NOAA to perform such “monitoring” missions. This sets up a fundamental conflict with Pathways. The research challenges in Dec-Cen, S-I, Ecosystems, and Atmospheric Chemical Change require measurements on the time scale of the relevant processes and long-term consistency. This may require observations over several ENSO (El Niño, Southern Oscillation) cycles, over the disturbance and regrowth cycle in forests, over an extended period to examine changes in the ice caps, or over the time period for the stratosphere to evolve as ozone-depleting compounds decay. These are central science questions for global change research in frontier areas, but it 10   For a detailed examination of the role of R&A in NASA programs, see National Research Council, Space Studies Board, Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA’s Science Programs, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 is not at all clear that they can be readily transferred to operational settings without diminished standards for calibration, stability, and continuity. Nor is it clear that researchers are yet making the correct measurements. There must be room allowed for mission concepts that preserve continuity for time series while enhancing the quality of the measurement or greatly reducing its cost through technological improvement. Interagency collaboration is essential, and there must be a rigorous process for transferring responsibilities to operational missions—one that also ensures the continuity of measurements required to address critical questions whose answer is not amenable to this mode of operation. Indeed the distinction between long-term science (the study of processes that occur on long time scales) and monitoring (the routine observation of processes for operational forecasting, early warnings, or management) must be made crystal clear. The task group concurred with the conclusion of the Easton report that when considering NASA’s new approach to mission planning and implementation, “the single most critical concern is the lack of a national policy to address long-term measurements to meet known national and international needs” (p. 26). The task group was made aware of NASA’s call for a high-level process to develop a national policy to ensure that the long-term continuity and quality of key data sets required for global change research are not compromised in the process of merging research and operational data sets. 11 Such a process is needed to address the task group’s concerns regarding continuity and integrity of certain long-term measurements. Neither NASA nor any other single agency can develop such a policy on its own; it will necessarily involve examination of the missions and responsibilities of a number of federal agencies. The task group believes that a strategy of migration to NPOESS simply on the grounds of the length of measurement time is both ill-advised and in conflict with the recommendations in the Pathways report. Indeed, as discussed in item 5 below, the task group believes that far greater effort in leadership and planning is necessary to ensure continuity in the transition of research to operations. Broad aspects of balance between various Earth science discipline areas. The need for discipline balance derives from the fact that many important problems in the Earth sciences involve an interplay among individual disciplines. A familiar example is understanding ENSO phenomena. ENSO involves a joint oscillation of the atmosphere and ocean; therefore, any sensible study approach must include observation and modeling of both the atmosphere and ocean. It is becoming increasingly clear that many, if not most, Earth science problems require an interdisciplinary approach for their understanding and prediction. Currently, some of the most interesting scientific problems occur at disciplinary interfaces. There also needs to be a balanced approach to assessing and integrating the diverse observations in NASA’s suggested mission set. A data system is required that facilitates the merging of diverse data sets for interdisciplinary science. There needs to be a balance between mission measurement, modeling, and data analysis activities for the solution of problems. Without such balance, progress will not be possible on many of the cross-cutting scientific themes. There should also be a balance between research and applications in the design of programs. Some of the same data streams will be used for both scientific research and societal applications. For example, climate information on storm frequency is used to validate the output of climate models, but it is also useful for assessing logical rate structures for the insurance industry. Similarly, data on the productivity of marine and terrestrial systems, which is critical for improving our understanding of the carbon cycle, can also be used in developing early warning systems for conditions likely to give rise to public health problems, for example, cholera and famine. Without a balance between research and applications, realization of potential benefits such as these will not be possible. There also needs to be a balance between conservatism and innovation. Conservatism is needed to give confidence that a long-term data set will be acquired, but innovation is needed to design new observational systems that will obtain previously unavailable data, obtain data that may have higher quality or accuracy, and/or acquire data at less cost in the future. The task group believes that the results of the Easton workshop gave a mission set that is balanced among the disciplines; however, it has concerns regarding other, more important aspects of balance, especially the balance between space-based and in situ observations. Another critical aspect of achieving 11   Letter from Mr. Daniel Goldin, Administrator of NASA, to Dr. Neal Lane, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, February 1, 1999.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 BOX 2 Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA’s Science Programs Principles for Strategic Planning Finding: The [R&A] task group finds that R&DA is not always thoroughly and explicitly integrated into the NASA enterprise strategic plans and that not all decisions about the direction of R&DA are made with a view toward achieving the goals of the strategies. The task group examined the trend and balance of R&DA budgets and found alarming results; it questions whether these results are what NASA intends. Recommendation 1: The task group recommends that each science program office at NASA do the following: • Regularly evaluate the impact of R&DA on progress toward the goals of the strategic plans. • Link NASA research announcements (NRAs) to addressing key scientific questions that can be related to the goals of these strategic plans. • Regularly evaluate the balance between the funding allocations for flight programs and the R&DA required to support those programs (e.g., assess whether the current program can support R&DA for the International Space Station). • Regularly evaluate the balance among various subelements of the R&DA program (e.g., theoretical investigations; new instrument development; exploratory or supporting ground-based and suborbital research; interpretation of data from individual or multiple space missions; management of data; support of U.S. investigators who participate in international missions; and education, outreach, and public information). • Use broadly based, independent scientific peer review panels to define suitable metrics and review the agency’s internal evaluations of balance. • Examine ways to maximize familiarity with contemporary advances and directions in science and technology in the process of managing R&DA, for example, via the appropriate use of rotators. Source: Excerpted from National Research Council, Space Studies Board, Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA’s Science Programs: Engines for Innovation and Synthesis, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998, pp. 63-64. program balance is the role of research and analysis programs. The vital role of research and analysis (R&A) programs in developing an effective program of research must also be acknowledged, and specific plans for linking R&A programs with post-2002 mission plans should be developed (see Box 2 ). General technical and programmatic feasibility. The first objective of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) 12 is “to fulfill its commitment to the science community, to maintain continuity of key EOS measurements, and deliver consistent time series of global observation over the period of time required by the nature of the Earth system.” 13 The task group endorses this priority. However, in executing the ESE mission scenario, NASA assumes integration of its global observation program with the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program. Though NASA, NOAA, and DOD are working in good faith to accomplish such a convergence, it is far from clear that such a convergence will occur, or how well a converged tri-agency program will serve diverse user communities. Moreover, it is far from certain whether scientific innovation, continuous improvement of measurement capabilities, a PI mode of operation, and technological agility can be pursued within the constraints of convergence, even given the best scenario for management and oversight. Thus, these program attributes, which both NASA and the task group endorse, might be missing from measurement programs addressing some of the most critical global change science issues. 12   The ESE was formerly known as the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE). The program is managed by NASA’s Office of Earth Science. Further information on the ESE is available at < http://www.earth.nasa.gov/ >. 13   Research Division, NASA Office of Earth Science, ESE Mission Scenario for the 2002-2010 Period, version 2.1, Oct. 5, 1998, p. 3.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 Prior to any convergence of EOS and NPOESS missions, NASA and NOAA anticipate a series of “bridging missions” (see ESE Missions EOS-2, EOS-3, and EOS-4 in the Easton workshop report). Successful accomplishment of these is an important first test of the convergence approach. It is also important to emphasize NASA’s strength in developing new technology for the Earth observation community. Pathways Overview Recommendation 4 emphasizes the importance of technological innovation in “the restructured national strategy for Earth observations” (p. 30). However, the task group was not presented much detail from NASA on how technological innovation can be brought to bear on the entire set of future missions. The NASA strategy for long time-series measurements depends on effective partnerships with the operational agencies as well as international partners to ensure the delivery of critical Earth science data sets. In regard to the NPOESS missions, NASA has not been an active partner beyond the provision of new technology. The task group is also concerned that innovative measurements and techniques developed by NASA will not be continued under NPOESS, largely as a result of cost considerations. The task group recognizes that NASA plans to become a more active partner with NPOESS; this is evidenced by NASA’s plans to participate in the proposed “bridging” missions. However, the approaches of the operational agencies and NASA to acquiring critical data sets are fundamentally different, and NASA’s research-driven requirements require considerably more insight into the design and technical implementation of the observing system. If NASA is to rely on operational observing systems, then it must play an active role in the process from beginning to end. Similarly, international partnerships will continue to play an important role in NASA’s strategy. Rapid redesigns and shifts in strategy are generally not conducive to the formation and maintenance of such partnerships, which require years of sustained involvement from all parties. 14 In summary, the task group notes that no federal entity is currently the “agent” for climate or longer-term observations and analyses, 15 nor has the “virtual agency” envisioned in the USGCRP succeeded in this function. Similarly, the authors of the Easton workshop report concluded that “the single most critical concern [with the new NASA approach toward post-2002 missions] is the lack of a national policy to address long-term measurements to meet known national and international needs” (p. 26). 16 The task group endorses NASA’s call for a high-level process to develop a national policy to ensure that the long-term continuity and quality of key data sets required for global change research are not compromised in the process of merging research and operational data sets. It also concurs with NASA that “the Nation lacks a strategy for ensuring the availability of long-term, well-calibrated satellite observations.” 17 Identification of major scientific or technical problems implicit in the mission scenario. Emerging science issues focus increasingly on specific research questions about interactive Earth system processes whose study requires multiple data types. NASA has recommitted itself to an integrated program of systematic observations and process studies where science questions drive technology development and implementation. However, a strategy for coordinating sensor deployments, data acquisition, and data management is needed to optimize the multiple uses of these data. Explicit coordination plans are needed to provide multidisciplinary data for research that requires integration of data from more than one sensor. Potential deployment plans need to be fully reviewed by the relevant scientific communities, with sufficient opportunities to provide advice on adjusting sensor design, data acquisition plans, and data archiving plans. For example, having the opportunity to consider mission trade-offs would provide more effective use of NASA data by broader parts of the scientific user community. 14   National Research Council and European Science Foundation, U.S.-European Collaboration in Space Science, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998. 15   A similar view is expressed in the NRC report Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems, where it is stated that “there has been a lack of progress by the federal agencies responsible for climate observing systems, individually and collectively, toward developing and maintaining a credible integrated climate observing system.” National Research Council, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 5. 16   The report goes on to say that “for the measurements explicitly accepted as within the NPOESS mandate, there is no assurance that the quality of measurements, including accuracy, calibration, ground validation, and orbital parameters will be able to meet the scientific requirements [and] there are many other measurements of importance that NPOESS has no mandate to make.” 17   Letter from Mr. Daniel Goldin; see footnote 11 .

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 NASA has developed several programs (e.g., Instrument Incubator Program, New Millennium Program, Earth System Science Pathfinders) designed to infuse new sensor technologies into the post-2002 EOS program. However, as noted elsewhere in this letter report, the Easton mission set is conservative in its application of new technologies and alternative mission architectures. A more deliberate planning process might lead to more innovative approaches. The task group endorses the PI model that NASA has adopted for new sensor development, originating from the scientific community, as the basis for instrument development. This is a significant part of NASA’s plan to ensure that the science objectives are the focus of new sensor missions. In addition, given the emerging science strategy of having a number of distinct PI-led missions, the task group recommends that NASA establish a broadly based Science Integration Team charged with developing the requirements for data integration and for reviewing NASA’s plans for sensor design, data acquisition, and data management to determine if they are consistent with expected scientific uses of the data. The broadest use of NASA sensor data, and support for the NASA systems, will be facilitated by including interagency and international investigators on the team. Additionally, including other stakeholders in the Science Integration Team will allow early discussions of joint missions and leveraging of other space research programs. Timely advice on the progress of sensor programs and on the use and integration of the data could be achieved by having the NASA mission scenarios and sensor plans reviewed externally at approximately 3-year intervals. Support within the scientific community for the EOS program requires a workable plan for distributed data management that provides easy access to data by a wide range of investigators. The task group encourages the continued development of NASA’s Federation concept for data archiving and distribution. 18 While this model provides a good method to ensure linkage to data quality control, calibration, validation, and data continuity, it also raises concerns about whether data will be widely available to support data fusion and integration activities. The design and execution of a data system that satisfies the diverse Earth science and applications communities, yet does not expand to the point that it “squeezes out” the necessary resources for the science and applications that it is meant to enable, is both a necessary and difficult task that lies ahead for NASA. Long-term climate data records require an integrated, consistent program for sensor calibration, cross-sensor calibration, and data product validation. NASA has demonstrated expertise in pre-launch sensor calibration, cross-sensor calibration, and post-launch vicarious sensor calibration methods and should continue to provide this service as a unique NASA contribution under a joint interagency commitment to NPOESS. In addition, NASA has established a history of successfully organizing field validation experiments (e.g., in the area of land cover/land use, HAPEX, BOREAS, LBA) 19 that demonstrate the contribution of this type of program to Earth science research. However, constrained by a tight publication deadline and the absence of a detailed post-2002 science plan, the task group was unable to conduct a thorough analysis of the data set characteristics to be acquired (as opposed to the variables to be measured) in NASA’s mission scenario (see Box 3 ). Similarly, many critical data sets that are planned by NPOESS represent a continuation of today’s measurements, rather than the enhanced measurements developed by the Earth science community for flight on the EOS missions. A rigorous assessment is necessary to determine if the “continued” data will be adequate for the needs of the scientific community. An example is shown in Box 4 . Inaccurate or insufficiently sampled measurements often lead to erroneous conclusions; they always result in large uncertainties. The task group could easily identify gaps in plans for acquisition of necessary data. Somewhat more difficult was identifying inefficient measurement strategies, in which a minimally complete set of scientifically 18   National Research Council, Board on Sustainable Development, A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth/Earth Observing System, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C, 1995. 19   HAPEX-Sahel (Hydrological and Atmospheric Pilot Experiment in the Sahel) is an international land-surface-atmosphere observation program that was undertaken in western Niger, in the West African Sahel region. The overall aims were to improve understanding of the role of the Sahel on the general circulation, in particular the effects of the large interannual fluctuations of land surface conditions in this region and, in turn, to develop ideas about how the general circulation is related to the persistent droughts that have affected the Sahel during the last 25 years. The Boreal Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) is an international, interdisciplinary project that aims to determine the role of the boreal forest in the global climate system. The Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) is an international research initiative led by Brazil that is studying the climatological, ecological, biogeochemical, and hydrological functioning of Amazonia, the impact of land use change on these functions, and the interactions between Amazonia and the Earth system. Information on these and related field experiments is available at < http://www.inform.umd.edu/Geography/landcover/bvs/otherbvs.htm >.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 BOX 3 Challenges in Evaluating the Easton Mission Scenario The task group’s difficulties in evaluating the Easton mission scenario are illustrated with the following example. For studies of climate variability, the two highest-priority measurements related to global ocean circulation are ocean topography and ocean winds. The present NASA strategy for ocean topography has a multiyear gap between the joint NASA/CNES Jason-1 mission with transition to an altimeter mission of uncertain quality on NPOESS. Given the time scales of variability in ocean circulation, the task group views this as a serious deficiency. For ocean winds, NASA is relying on a transition from QuikScat to SeaWinds to ASCAT (on ESA missions). The research community has identified satellite coverage as a critical component of an effective strategy to observe ocean winds, and there are risks that the reliance on a single scatterometer (ASCAT) will prove inadequate to resolve critical processes for climate variability. Aside from the likely gap in ocean topography data between Jason-1, the follow-on to TOPEX/Poseidon that is planned for operation through 2006, and the Ocean Altimeter, which may begin operation when NPOESS is launched in approximately 2009, there remain concerns related to data quality for both ocean topography and ocean winds. The task group could not evaluate these risks, but instead highlights them as representative of a broader class of issues that must be addressed. For science issues that rely on long-term, systematic observations it is essential that the characteristics of the data sets be evaluated in a careful and thorough manner, not simply by the presence or absence of a critical measurement. Such an analysis was not completed at the Easton workshop. related measurements might not be acquired simultaneously, thus resulting in an overall data set with far less scientific potential than would appear from measurement summaries. Inaccurate or insufficiently sampled measurements are even harder to identify from program summaries in which instruments, missions, and data are examined in relative isolation from the specific science problems to be addressed. The task group emphasizes that its review did not, and could not, address these latter issues, yet they are critical given the need for continuous high-quality data, the size of the national investment being discussed, and the need for the overall national program to rapidly demonstrate scientific progress and to develop a strong foundation of knowledge on which policy makers can depend. Evaluation of the efficacy of the process employed by NASA to solicit ideas and to distill them to frame the proposed mission set. The task group addresses this question above in this report, especially in the response to the second topic in the charge. BOX 4 Continuity of EOS Measurements Ocean color is used to estimate concentrations of phytoplankton in the upper ocean. In a similar manner, satellite measurements of visible radiance are used to estimate characteristics of terrestrial vegetation for both monitoring and process studies. Marine and terrestrial vegetation measurements from space will play a critical role in the proposed Carbon Cycle Science program of the USGCRP. Currently, the NPOESS plan for long-term continuity of these data sets is to have instruments provide data with nearly identical characteristics as that provided by present-day sensors such as SeaWiFS and AVHRR. While continuation of the data sets is valuable, sensors planned for EOS (MODIS and ASTER) are significantly more capable in terms of spectral and spatial resolution as well as sensor performance. For example, these sensors will greatly improve our estimates of ocean primary productivity (through the use of the chlorophyll fluorescence bands on MODIS) and land cover processes (through the use of the 250-meter-spatial-resolution bands). Thus the NPOESS plans represent a step backwards in capability.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 IV. THE FUTURE In Pathways, the National Research Council recommends that NASA’s EOS program be restructured and focused on critical scientific issues and unresolved questions about global environmental change that are fundamental to scientific understanding and policy. While providing a framework for a sharply focused scientific strategy and a coherent programmatic structure, the Pathways report did not attempt to elaborate a plan for its implementation. Indeed, the next step identified in the report is development of a detailed science implementation plan. This will require reviewing and mapping the USGCRP activities against the set of Research Imperatives and unanswered Scientific Questions presented in the Pathways report to help set optimal programmatic priorities, as well as considering implications for the research strategy from new policy developments. The detail provided in the full Pathways report that was unavailable at the time of the Easton workshop should be helpful in guiding development of science-driven Earth observation missions. The task group endorses NASA’s stated intent to make the ESE science-driven and toward that end recommends that NASA, working with its USGCRP partners, build on the Easton process with a new round of planning to begin immediately. As noted above, there would be many benefits in pursuing a more deliberate approach in this planning cycle. Consistent with the Pathways report, and with NASA’s stated intention, the process should begin by utilizing the scientific community’s consensus on the fundamental questions in Earth system science. The optimal mix of ground-, aircraft-, balloon-, and space-based measurements to address these questions should then be developed. While execution of the resultant program will necessarily involve all of the USGCRP agencies, NASA’s role is key. The task group also recommends that in developing the observing program, the critical roles of theory, laboratory work, field programs, computer modeling, and data analysis should also be fully considered. 20 The planning process should be an orderly one that is aimed at minimizing the continual changes that have been the hallmark of the EOS program. To do this, the task group believes that the Earth science community must be closely involved from the outset in the NASA planning, and that this process should be viewed as an iterative procedure with regular external reviews. The process also must include more attention to intricate issues associated with reaching consensus and then ensuring the continuity of key long time-series measurements. The current strategy of hand-off to NPOESS is budget-driven. If the strategy is to be successful, a multitude of technical, budgetary, and organizational issues must be resolved. 21 Even in the best case, the science supported by the converged system will have less ability, compared with other science areas, to rapidly advance measurement capabilities, deploy “agile” new missions, or operate in a science-driven PI mode. Ensuring continuity of operational data, evaluating the readiness of a given “research” data series to move to an operational status, and managing the “research-to-operations” transition of data are problems that will require scientific community involvement and NASA leadership among the USGCRP agencies. Near-term plans must be developed to continue such valuable measurements as ozone, precipitation, scatterometry, and altimetry. The task group also notes that NPOESS instruments are proposed to continue most, but not all, of the ocean color measurements on SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field of view Sensor), and they continue the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) measurements now provided by the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) instrument on the NOAA Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). As noted above, for all of these variables, a rigorous assessment is necessary to determine if the “continued” data will be adequate for the needs of the scientific community. Longer-term plans must allow for integration of potential follow-ons to NASA’s EOS AM-1, PM-1, and CHEM, preparations for possible NASA-NOAA bridge missions, and the possible transition of some measurements to NPOESS starting in approximately 2009. It is abundantly clear that NASA’s ESE program cannot, and should not, be carried out in isolation from the rest of the USGCRP (nor from international partners). While not the subject of this report, it is also clear that the USGCRP would benefit from closer coordination of its agency components, the most important of which is NASA. As stated in the Pathways report, “In part, this problem has arisen because of disaggregation of the national effort across multiple agencies. The agencies have neither an enforceable mandate to cooperate in a manner necessary to be successful nor a system that requires accountability of expenditures. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council was designed to improve the 20   Discussed in Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA’s Science Programs; see footnote 10. 21   National Research Council, Space Studies Board, “On Climate Change Research Measurements from NPOESS,” letter report to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA, and Mr. Robert S. Winokur, NOAA, May 27, 1998.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 coordination of both the USGCRP agencies and the budget crosscuts with OMB in presenting a national program. Unfortunately, the management framework has not had the expected effect. The desired ‘virtual agency’ 22 has been quite far from reality.” 23 The task group emphasizes that an effective national global change program cannot exist as mostly a collection of largely autonomous agency programs. It is our strong view that taking the steps outlined in this letter report will result in Earth science research by NASA that will be of the highest caliber, capable of supporting the crucial environmental decisions that face our nation and the world. Signed by Claude R. Canizares Chair, Space Studies Board Marvin A. Geller Chair, Post-2002 Task Group Eric J. Barron Co-chair, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate James R. Mahoney Co-chair, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Edward A. Frieman Chair, Board on Sustainable Development     NOTE: Appendixes A through D and reprints of related documents attached to the original letter report as transmitted are not reproduced here. 22   “Virtual Agency” refers to the USGCRP interagency body. See p. ii in Our Changing Planet: The FY 1998 U.S. Global Change Research Program, U.S. Global Change Research Program Office, Washington, D.C., 1997. 23   Overview volume of Pathways report, p. 14.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 4.2 On the National Science Foundation’s Facility Instrumentation Program On June 2, 1999, Board on Physics and Astronomy Chair Robert Dynes and Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares, on behalf of the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, sent the following letter to Dr. Hugh Van Horn, director of the National Sciences Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. At its meeting in November 1998, the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) was asked by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to review a proposal by ACCORD (AURA Coordinating Council of Observatory Research Directors) to modify NSF’s current Facility Instrumentation Program (FIP), which was initially recommended by the CAA’s Panel on Ground-Based Optical and Infrared Astronomy (A Strategy for Ground-Based Optical and Infrared Astronomy, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995; hereinafter the OIR report). The NSF originally implemented the OIR report’s recommendation by establishing the FIP, which provides support for the construction of facility instruments at the independent observatories. Funds are awarded on the basis of scientific merit in exchange for observing time for the astronomical community at large. The ACCORD proposal suggests revising the FIP by removing the current requirement for a return of observing time to the community and replacing it with a requirement for matching funds. The revised FIP would provide a return to the community by opening the program to proposals from national facilities, such as the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) and the Gemini Observatory. The CAA here reaffirms its support for the basic principles and form of the original FIP as outlined in the OIR report: the development of facility instruments at major private observatories and, in return, the provision of observing time open to the astronomical community (OIR report, p. 2 and pp. 28-33). The opening of the FIP to proposals from the national observatories, which already have their own instrumentation funding, would not address the goal of providing community access as recommended in the OIR report. Nor would it be consistent with the relatively low priority assigned in that report to instrumentation at NOAO (OIR report, p. 28). Also, the proposed revised FIP would not provide for community access to any unique facility instruments developed by the independent observatories. This lack of community access together with the fact that matching funds are not a substitute for access to facility instruments leads the CAA to recommend against adoption of the ACCORD proposal. The CAA does, however, suggest a modification of NSF’s existing FIP. The OIR report suggested that the fraction of telescope time made available for national access should be commensurate with the NSF funding provided for new instrumentation as a fraction of the observatory’s amortized construction, operations, and instrumentation costs. Experience now suggests that there should be some flexibility in determining the appropriate conversion from NSF funding dollars to observing time for the astronomical community. The CAA recommends that the NSF continue the FIP, and continue to judge proposals based on scientific and technical merit, and on return to the community. Based on NSF’s experience with the FIP, the “free market” of proposal pressure is the most efficient mechanism for setting the ratio between funding and observing time. The CAA recommends that the modified FIP should require a substantial amount of observing time in return for instrument support and that the NSF in its Request for Proposals should set a minimum acceptable return factor. Such a modified program would retain the essential features of the OIR report’s recommended program but would more fairly reward the independent observatories for their success in obtaining observatory construction and operating funds. The CAA notes that the nature of the return under the FIP might also include timely access to large survey databases produced with such facility instruments. Finally, the CAA reiterates its belief that the basic principles behind the FIP are sound and offer a wonderful opportunity to provide community access to forefront facilities built by private funds. Signed by Claude R. Canizares Chair, Space Studies Board Robert Dynes Chair, Board on Physics and Astronomy     Footnote: CAA Co-Chair John Huchra, a member of the AURA board, recused himself from the deliberations on the recommendations contained in this letter.

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Space Studies Board: Annual Report 1999 4.3 On Antarctic Astronomy On August 19, 1999, Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics Co-chairs John P. Huchra and Thomas A. Prince sent the following letter to Dr. Hugh Van Horn, director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Division of Astronomical Sciences, and Dr. Karl Erb, director of NSF’s Office of Polar Programs. Since its initial meetings in 1992, the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) has followed with great interest the development of astronomy conducted at the South Pole. The CAA has heard presentations at several meetings since that time. As part of its continuing interest in the subject, the CAA, at its meeting on November 10-11, 1998, invited Antony Stark, Doyal A. Harper, and John Lynch to give presentations on recent results of astronomical research conducted in the Antarctic. The CAA was impressed with the work put into the evaluation and analysis of the astronomical potential of the South Pole, especially in the 3-5 micron and sub-millimeter bands, and appreciates the advantages of low water vapor levels, reduced sky background emission, and 24-hour coverage. It is clear that the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA) has demonstrated in the last decade that good astronomy can be done from the South Pole and that the infrastructure is adequate to support a reasonable astronomical enterprise. The CAA strongly supports a peer-reviewed proposal process for the selection of astronomical research programs open to the U.S. community. This proposal process should stress the cost-effectiveness of the science conducted at the South Pole, the uniqueness of the science, and, of course, the quality of the science. CARA is the principal institution that supports and oversees work of this kind, and, over the coming year, the National Science Foundation plans to gradually phase down the program. The Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee is, as part of its decadal priority-setting process, considering the role that Antarctic astronomy plays in astronomy overall. With this in mind, the CAA concluded that it would be desirable to continue the support of the Antarctic astronomy program until its priority ranking within astronomy has been determined and NSF can incorporate this information into its planning. The ranking should be available by mid 2000. Signed by John P. Huchra Co-chair, Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics Thomas A. Prince Co-chair, Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics