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3 Summaries of Major Reports 3.1 Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA A Report of the Committee on Microgravity Research Executive Summary CHARGE TO THE COMMITTEE AND BACKGROUND Performing experiments in low Earth orbit has been the focus of much of the research funded by NASA’s Physical Sciences Division (PSD) and its predecessors for over 30 years. This microgravity research can be divided into five broad areas, all of which focus primarily on phenomena that are strongly perturbed by gravity: biotechnology, combustion, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science. To these disciplines, the Physical Sciences Division is considering adding research in such emerging areas as biomolecular physics and chemistry, nanotechnology, and research in support of the human exploration and development of space (HEDS). In response to a request from NASA, the Committee on Microgravity Research produced a phase I report, in which it proposed criteria for selecting additional research in these new areas and set forth a mission statement for the PSD. The present report is the phase II report. In it, the committee identifies more specific topics within the emerging areas on which the PSD can most profitably focus. The committee assesses the current status of PSD’s research programs in combustion, fluid behavior, fundamental physics, and materials science. At NASA’s request the committee did not address work in the biotechnology area, as that area had been the subject of a recent review (NRC, 2000). In assessing the impact of the work, the committee considered the following questions: The contribution of important knowledge from microgravity research on the topic to the larger field of which the research is a part; The progress made in answering the microgravity research questions posed on each topic; The potential for further progress to be made in each area of microgravity research. Areas of future research in the existing disciplines are recommended, and guidance is given for setting priorities across these areas and within the emerging areas. The scientific impact of the existing disciplines, which NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from prepublication version of Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA, approved for release in 2002.
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was assessed by addressing questions 1-3, was a particularly important consideration when establishing priorities across the existing microgravity programs. The microgravity program has evolved considerably since its inception as the “materials processing in space” program of the Skylab era. With the exception of the biotechnology program (NRC, 2000), in the early 1990s there was a major emphasis placed upon outreach to the science communities of which the microgravity disciplines were a part. This took the form of biannual conferences in each of the disciplines prior to the release of a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) and an extensive canvassing of the community with notices of the opportunity to apply for support. The result was much greater visibility for the combustion, fluid behavior, materials science, and fundamental physics programs within the larger fields of which they are part, and an increase in the number of proposals submitted. The impact of this outreach became clear as the committee assessed the quality of the investigators and research in the NASA program. The early 1990s also saw the establishment of the fluid physics and combustion programs in their current forms and then, in the past 5 years, an expansion of the fundamental physics program. More recently, the PSD has begun to expand beyond the traditional microgravity-related disciplines to include research in which gravity may have no role, such as biomolecular physics and nanotechnology. The recent financial problems of the International Space Station (ISS) have brought a major uncertainty to the future of the microgravity program. Many of the facilities that were destined for the ISS have been delayed, and the crew time available for science has been drastically curtailed. This financial crisis has also affected the ground-based research program. Whether this is a temporary setback or the beginning of the end of the microgravity program remains to be seen. Given the uncertainty, the committee did not consider what ISS resources would or would not be available in formulating its findings and recommendations. The report contains chapters discussing the impact of the microgravity program on the fields of combustion, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science, along with recommendations for promising avenues of future research in each field. There are also chapters that discuss promising research in the emerging areas and provide guidance on cross-discipline research priorities. IMPACT OF MICROGRAVITY PROGRAM In assessing the impact of the PSD-funded work, the committee employed a number of metrics. These included citation rates for publications of research results, the prominence of the journals in which results were published, the changes to standard textbooks that resulted from research findings, documented influence on industry or NASA applications, and the fraction of principal investigators who are fellows of various societies, who are members of the National Academies of Engineering or Science, or who have received other recognition such as awards in their field. The research in each of the existing microgravity disciplines (except, as mentioned, biotechnology) was assessed. Below is a partial listing of the research topics that have had an impact on their respective field: The fluid physics program has produced a large body of significant research in areas ranging from flows due to surface tension gradients to the dynamics of complex liquids—with important applications to industrial processes such as oil recovery and to NASA flight technologies. The unique access to space provided by NASA has led to the development of ground-based and flight research programs that have enabled growth and advancement of research in such fields as thermocapillary flow, and it has attracted leading investigators to the program, including members of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as numerous fellows of professional societies. The combustion program has made important contributions to the fundamental understanding of such combustion behavior as the chemical kinetics of flames and flame length variation, resulting in the correction of both basic theory and college textbooks. The results of studies on smoldering, flame spread, radiative transfer, and soot production have not only led to changes in spacecraft fire safety procedures, but have also advanced knowledge about some of the most important practical problems in combustion on Earth. Some these results are already being incorporated into industry applications such as aircraft combustor design. The NASA program currently supports some of the most distinguished combustion scientists in the world, including members of the National Academy of Engineering and numerous fellows of professional societies. The fundamental physics (FP) program has made important contributions to both basic theory and the practice of research in such areas as critical point physics and optical frequency measurement, and its work is
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published frequently in the leading scientific journals. Access to the space environment enabled a definitive test of the widely applicable Renormalization Group Theory,1 while ground research sponsored by the program led to an orders-of-magnitude reduction in the labor, physical infrastructure, and time needed for scientists around the world to perform optical frequency measurements. The program has attracted a high caliber of talent, including six Nobel laureates and over two dozen investigators who are either members of the National Academy of Sciences or fellows of professional societies. Research in the NASA materials program has led to major theoretical insights into solidification and crystal growth process and has resulted in both the verification and refutation of classical theories predicting materials solidification behavior and microstructural development. Much of this work also has direct relevance to important commercially processes such as casting and semiconductor production, and research results have been utilized by such diverse industries as metal-cutting tool companies (to improve a production process responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in annual costs) and jet engine manufacturers. Investigators have received numerous prestigious awards for their work in this program, and a high percentage of them are professional society fellows and members of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences. HIGH-PRIORITY MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH Below are the areas of research considered to have a high priority within each microgravity discipline. It should be kept in mind that there are numerous additional areas of promising research in each of the fields that were not given the highest priority at this time and thus were not explicitly recommended. Some of these areas might achieve a higher priority in the future. In addition, the committee expects that in future years the communities will generate new research topics that are equally as promising as those recommended here. Fluid Physics Fluid physics should continue to play a dual role in NASA’s physical science research program. For scientists in general, the program provides access to a unique laboratory that permits the isolation and study of the effects of nongravitational forces on fluid behavior. For NASA, the program provides the basis for acquiring knowledge necessary for the development of the next generation of mission-enabling technologies essential to NASA’s human exploration and development of space. The recommended areas of research are these: Multiphase flow and heat-transfer technology. This is a critical technology area for space exploration and a sustained human presence in space (NRC, 2000) and is relevant to numerous terrestrial technologies. Self-assembly and crystallization. Such research is expected to advance fundamental knowledge of phase transitions and lead to innovation in terrestrial technologies—for example, the fabrication of novel materials such as photonic crystals. Complex fluid rheology. The behavior of complex fluids, such as the particle dynamics and segregation flows of dry granular materials or magnetorheological fluids is important to technologies needed for NASA’s Human Exploration and Development of Space efforts as well as to numerous industrial applications. Interfacial processes. Surface-tension-related phenomena are important for a number of mission-related technologies, and the microgravity environment offers experimentalists expanded length scales on which to observe interfacial phenomena compared to Earth. Wetting and spreading dynamics. Experimental and theoretical research in these areas is necessary for improved understanding of thin-film dynamics in a variety of applications from coating flows to boiling heat transfer. Capillary-driven flows and equilibria. Capillary-driven flows and transport regimes associated with evaporation and condensation are important for both terrestrial and space-based applications. Coalescence and aggregation. Research on the effects of gravity (and its absence) on coalescence and aggregation is necessary for HEDS since these processes are important to power and life support systems. 1 For which the Nobel Prize in physics had previously been awarded.
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Cellular biotechnology. Advances in the understanding of transport processes in bioreactors is of importance for HEDS medical applications and could lead to significant advances in the biological sciences and the biotechnology industry by improving the ability to control tissue and cell growth. Physiologic flows. Fluids research in connection with biomedical applications (both terrestrial and space-related) will be necessary, for example, to better define paths to effective countermeasures for bone loss in microgravity and to explore the behavior of red blood cells in suspension. Combustion The microgravity combustion research program has been driven by two objectives: (a) a need to understand those physical phenomena thought to be relevant for spacecraft fire safety and (b) a desire to deepen knowledge of fundamental combustion processes on Earth. Both of these objectives are addressed by the following high-priority research: Development of computer simulation of fire dynamics on spacecraft. Earth-based fire protection techniques have evolved through thousands of years of fire fighting experience. Since there is no such experience base for space fires, physics-based computer simulations are the only alternative. Such simulations have also proved to be of great value in assessing fire safety and control strategies for fires on Earth. Research on ignition, flame spread, and screening techniques for engineering materials in a microgravity environment. The goal of the research is the development of a science-based method for determining the fire performance of materials that are candidates for use in space. The results would also be directly usable in space fire simulation codes described above. The two programs taken together would provide a major advance in the understanding of fires in space and the ability to mitigate their consequences. Safety of oxygen systems. One of the critical systems on the ISS and other space, lunar, and planetary habitats is the oxygen generation and handling system. Thus an understanding of the dynamics and extinguishment of fires involving oxygen is necessary. Smoldering combustion. Smoldering and transition to flaming combustion in microgravity are significantly different than on Earth and thus require additional studies. Soot and radiation. The understanding of basic processes that lead to the formation and emission of small carbon particles in high-temperature combustors remains to be understood, and radiation heat transfer has many critical implications for fire safety. Turbulent combustion. Turbulence in general and turbulence in the presence of combustion are exceedingly difficult phenomena to model and understand. Nevertheless, most industrial combustion devices and natural fires involve turbulent combustion, and thus the potential impact of this work is large. Chemical kinetics. The chemical kinetics and reaction mechanisms of practical fuels and fuel blends of interest to industry remain unknown. Nanomaterial synthesis in flames. Flames provide an inexpensive means of producing nanoparticles for mass use. The work to date has generally been empirical, and opportunities exist for understanding the chemical composition and thermal structure of the flow that is conducive to synthesis of the desired forms of materials. Fundamental Physics In fundamental physics, the committee gave high priority to the successful execution of the specific experiments that have already been selected for flight on the ISS. These experiments will test important fundamental principles in physics, and in most cases an experiment’s success would end any further need for space experimentation in that area. These already selected experiments along with new areas that have been given high priority, are as follows: Currently selected ISS experiments. Low-temperature experiments. The four experiments planned here, taken along with the results of experiments that have already flown, are expected to provide a full picture of the equilibrium behavior of systems near critical points, including the role of boundaries and the dynamical response to perturbations. Relativity and precision clock experiments. The results of these experiments are expected to substantially improve the precision and stability of atomic clocks.
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Other NASA clock application experiments. By flying other types of clocks simultaneously with the atomic clock experiments, such fundamental ideas as the Einstein weak equivalence principle can be tested. Antimatter search and measurements. A positive identification of heavy antimatter would be highly significant for astrophysics and cosmology. Elemental composition survey. Measurement of the cosmic ray elemental composition up to and beyond the “knee“ in the cosmic ray spectrum should provide the best clues to the origin of cosmic rays. Materials Science Materials science has played a central role in many of the discoveries that have shaped our world, from integrated circuits to low-loss optical fibers and high performance composite materials. These research areas, which also contain many subdiscplines, will continue this tradition of science-driven discoveries of great importance to both the nation and NASA: Nucleation within and properties of undercooled liquids. The nucleation process plays a prominent role in setting materials properties. Currently the conditions governing the nucleation of stable and metastable phases are not well understood. Dynamics of microstructural development during solidification. The ability to directly link processing conditions to the resulting materials properties is still not at hand because the mechanisms governing the development of microstructure during solidification are not well understood. Morphological evolution of multiphase systems. The properties of a material are linked to the size, shape, and spatial distribution of the component phases. Understanding the morphological evolution of these systems will allow prediction of the manner in which the properties of a material evolve. Computational materials science. It is now possible to design a material using simulations to obtain a desired set of properties. This will create a new paradigm for designing industrially relevant materials, since the materials will be created with a minimum of costly, time-consuming experiments. This approach can have a significant impact on NASA as it assures that the desired materials properties of interest to NASA will be attained, and done so in a greatly reduced time and with a lower cost. Thermophysical data of the liquid state in microgravity. Accurate thermophysical data for the liquid state is required for computational modeling of materials processing. Nanomaterials and biomimetic materials. There are many promising avenues for materials research at the nanoscale and at the interface between the biological and materials sciences. These new directions are discussed in the section on emerging areas. HIGH-PRIORITY RESEARCH IN THE EMERGING AREAS Emerging technologies, particularly at the confluence of the biological, physical and engineering sciences at the nanoscale, offer an ideal opportunity for NASA to leverage knowledge gained from the worldwide investments in these fields in order to address its own technology needs. NASA should stay in a position to capitalize rapidly on anticipated advances in nanotechnology. This includes building and maintaining sufficient in-house expertise and ensuring that PSD reaches out to new communities since many disciplines are involved, including physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, medical science, and engineering. Important technologies for fabricating new materials and devices will originate from novel approaches to molecular assembly, combined with nano- and microfabrication tools and the exploitation of design principles inspired by nature. The following topics were identified by the committee as the most promising areas of future research relevant to NASA needs and PSD capabilities: Methods for long-term stabilization of proteins in vitro. Long-term preservation of protein function is essential to the utilization of proteins in space in sensors, for diagnostics, and in bioreactors on extended flight missions. Cellular responses to gravity-mediated tissue stresses. Developing a mechanistic understanding of how applied loads and stresses affect cellular processes and the underlying molecular processes will lead to a better understanding of the impact of low-gravity conditions on human health.
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Technologies to produce nanoengineered hybrid materials with multiple functions. Investments in nanoengineered materials consisting of diverse molecular species or phases, or hybrid materials, could provide NASA with new materials that can sense, respond, self-repair, and/or communicate with the user. Integrated nanodevices. Emerging technologies for engineering micro and nano-devices able to sense, process acquired data, and take action based on sensory inputs could contribute significantly to achieving NASA’s goals. Power generation and energy conversion. Nanotechnology promises to increase the efficiency of energy conversion, decrease weight, and increase the overall energy density for energy storage. Knowledge base for stabilizing cell function in vitro. Efforts to stabilize cells may represent an effective strategy for producing needed cell types to meet emergencies on demand while eliminating the need to keep an extensive inventory of cell types available in space. RESEARCH PRIORITIES AND PROGRAM DIRECTIONS In order to assess and compare research across the microgravity disciplines, the committee critically examined the potential impact of the research on the scientific field of which it is part, on NASA’s technology needs, and on industry or other terrestrial applications. The committee’s evaluation of research in each of these categories is expected to assist NASA program planners by providing the insight into likely risks and potential rewards of the research necessary to create a vibrant microgravity research program that has an impact in all of these areas. Because of the brief history and rapid development of the fields of research in the emerging areas, it was not possible to evaluate research in those areas using the same criteria applied to the research in combustion science, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science. While the likelihood that PSD-funded research in emerging areas will have significant impacts on NASA cannot be evaluated at this time, the magnitude of the impact of successful research is potentially very high. Therefore the committee ranked the priority of research topics in the emerging areas only relative to each other, and suggests that PSD utilize the prioritization to help allocate funds that have been set aside for these emerging areas. Prioritizing Microgravity Sciences Research When comparing research across disciplines, the committee considered only those areas already identified above as having a high priority for one of the disciplines. To evaluate the recommended research areas, the committee separately judged the likelihood that the research would have a significant impact in (1) the scientific field of which it is part, (2) industry or terrestrial applications, and (3) NASA technology needs. Within each of these categories the committee specifically looked at both the magnitude of the potential impact that the research would have on that category, and the likelihood that the research would be successful in achieving that impact. The impact and probability of success were assessed independently of each other since it was possible for areas with a potential for high impact to have a low probability of success and vice versa. The results of the committee’s assessment are plotted in Figures ES.1, ES.2, and ES.3. Note that the setting of actual research priorities must depend on NASA’s programmatic goals and that those goals determine both the desired end result, such as scientific discovery, and the level of acceptable risk. The purpose of these plots then is to provide NASA with the tools with which to rationally select the best research, regardless of which combination of scientific discovery (Figure ES.1), terrestrial applications (Figure ES.2), or NASA technology needs (Figure ES.3) that NASA chooses to emphasize or what trade-offs between research risk and reward it is willing to accept. Priorities in the Emerging Areas All of the areas recommended below satisfy the criteria identified in the phase I report for choosing research in the emerging areas. The development of methods for the long-term stabilization of proteins in vitro and research on cellular responses to gravity-mediated tissue stresses are of higher priority than the others, because these areas are not typically supported by other agencies. The research on exploiting nanotechnology for power generation and energy conversion is also ranked “most important“ because of the great importance of power generation and energy conversion in NASA’s spaceflight program, and the major
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FIGURE ES.1 Assessment of research topics in terms of their likely impact on scientific knowledge and understanding. FIGURE ES.2 Assessment of research topics in terms of their likely impact on terrestrial applications such as industry’s technology needs.
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FIGURE ES.3 Assessment of research topics in terms of their likely impact on NASA’s technology needs. Figures ES.1, ES.2, and ES.3: Only subjects already considered to be of high priority in at least one discipline are included in this analysis, and therefore the magnitude scale only ranges from important to very important (or critical). A subject may not have a high impact in every category and therefore may not appear in every figure. Numbers inside the same circle should be considered to occupy approximately the same position in the figure. The numbers in the figures represent the research topics as follows: Multiphase Flow and Heat Transfer Complex Fluids: (a) Self-assembly and Crystallization and (b) Complex Fluid Rheologies; Interfacial Processes (a) Wetting and Spreading, (b) Capillary-Driven Flow and Equilibria, (c) Coalescence and Aggregation (liquid phase); Biofluid Dynamics (a) Cellular Bioreactor and (b) Physiological Flows; Turbulent Combustion; Chemical Kinetics; Soot and Radiation; Smoldering Combustion; Development of Computer Simulation of Fire Dynamics on Spacecraft; Oxygen Systems Fire Safety; Ignition, Flame Spread, and Screening Techniques for Engineering Materials; Antimatter Search/Measurements; Elemental Composition Survey; Complete Current Set of Fundamental Physics ISS Experiments: (a) Low Temperature Experiments, (b) Relativity and Precision Clock Experiments, and (c) Other NASA Clock Application Experiments; Nucleation Process Within and the Properties of Undercooled Liquids; Dynamics of Microstructural Development During Solidification; Ostwald Ripening, Liquid Phase Sintering and Spinodal Decomposition; Computational Materials Science; Collection of Thermophysical Data of Liquid State in Microgravity.
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impact these technologies may have on this program. The remaining areas ranked important are heavily supported by agencies such as DARPA, DOE, NSF, and DOD as well as by other divisions within NASA. Thus PSD should partner with these agencies or other divisions within NASA to pursue such research. In the past, PSD has successfully partnered with other agencies, such as the National Cancer Institute. The recommended topics are given below. Note that these are not rank-ordered within each category. Most Important Develop methods for the long-term stabilization of proteins in vitro. Understand cellular responses to gravity-mediated tissue stresses. Exploit nanotechnology for power generation and energy conversion. Important Develop enabling technologies to produce nanoengineered hybrid materials with multiple functions. Develop integrated nanodevices. Stabilization of cellular function in vitro. Program Balance When considering the question of the overall balance within PSD between microgravity research and research in the emerging areas, the committee looked at several factors. These included the degree of support received by topics in emerging areas from other government agencies and other divisions within NASA, the considerable potential of the microgravity research disciplines to yield important new results, the potentially high impact of successful research in emerging areas, and the ability of the PSD to provide unique resources or knowledge. These and other factors argued for a balanced PSD program of research that retains the unique potential for studying the effects of gravity on phenomena in combustion, fluid physics, materials, fundamental physics, and biotechnology topics such as tissue culturing. The committee concluded that the relative proportion of the physical sciences program devoted to the emerging areas should remain relatively modest, perhaps 15 percent of the program, until such time as a clear justification arises for increasing its size. This fraction of the program should allow NASA to have an impact on a limited number of highly focused topics within the broad emerging areas while leveraging the research of other agencies. It would also permit the majority of the research in the microgravity areas to continue to produce the high-impact results described in the discipline chapters. Peer Review The committee has commented numerous times in past studies on the role that rigorous peer review has had in greatly improving the quality of the research funded by the Physical Sciences Division, and strongly recommended its continued use in future funding selections. As the program moves into new areas of research it is worth emphasizing again that any research proposal submitted to the program—no matter how relevant to an area considered highly desirable for inclusion in the program—should be funded only if it has undergone a rigorous peer review and has received both high marks for scientific merit and a high ranking compared with competing proposals. REFERENCES National Research Council. 2000. Future Biotechnology Research on the International Space Station. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. National Research Council. 2000. Microgravity Research in Support of Technologies for the Human Exploration and Development of Space and Planetary Bodies. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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3.2 Assessment of the Usefulness and Availability of NASA’s Earth and Space Mission Data A Report of the Task Group on the Availability and Usefulness of NASA’s Space Mission Data Executive Summary The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has become a knowledge agency. Long after the Mars Surveyor has gone silent, Hubble has met the same fate as Mir, and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer has produced its final set of images, what will endure are the volumes of valuable data that these instruments and many others have collected over their lifetimes. NASA data sets are revolutionizing the fields of astrophysics, solar system exploration, space plasma physics, and Earth science. As this impressive collection of observations has grown, NASA’s mission has also expanded—evolving from an emphasis on mission planning and execution to include the collection, preservation, and dissemination of Earth and space data. Spacecraft that will be launched during the next decade will increase the data volume returned by NASA missions a hundredfold. These rich data sets will open new eras in precision cosmology and in understanding of the complex linkages in the forces that shape the Earth’s environment. Addressing the increasingly complex questions that can now be asked—and answered—through the use of NASA data will require the capability to compare and combine observations of different types and to discover patterns and relationships through sophisticated querying tools. The user community will need still-to-be-developed tools and methodologies for accessing, analyzing, and mining data; recognizing patterns; and performing cross-correlations that are scalable to a billion or more objects. Developing the necessary tools will present new challenges to space scientists, to the information-technology community, and to NASA. Investments in scientific analysis and in packaging data in formats useful to other potential users, including educators, those in industry, state and local government officials, and policy makers, will be needed in order to exploit the full potential of existing data set. The end product of each mission—knowledge— must be the key factor in determining mission design and budget allocations. AVAILABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF NASA’S SPACE MISSION DATA The Task Group on the Usefulness and Availability of NASA’s Space Mission Data was charged by NASA’s associate administrators for Earth science and space science to evaluate the availability, accessibility, and usefulness of data from Earth and space science missions, and to assess whether the balance between attention to mission planning and implementation versus data analysis and utilization is appropriate. Based on input from various sources—recent National Research Council (NRC) and other advisory committee reports; interviews with the chairs of relevant NASA advisory committees and discipline committees within the NRC; information gathered from NASA headquarters; and the task group’s survey of the archives, data centers, and data services and use of their Web sites—the task group’s answers to the charge (see Appendix A) are summarized below: Charge 1. How available and accessible are data from science missions (after expiration of processing and proprietary analysis periods, if any) from the point of view of both scientists in the larger U.S. research community, as well as U.S. education, public outreach and policy specialists, and private industry? What, if anything, should be changed to improve accessibility? As few as 10 years ago, NASA’s data collections were accessible mainly to researchers involved with specific missions. With the advent of a NASA network of active archives, data centers, and data services, most newer data sets have become widely available, especially to researchers. Enhancements in bandwidth and planned increases in the number of online data sets available through publicly accessible data facilities will improve the accessibility of NASA’s Earth and space science data still further over the next decade. However, much of the older data (e.g., in the fields of solar and space physics and planetary science) is still in the hands of principal investigators (PIs) or is not NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Assessment of the Usefulness and Availability of NASA’s Earth and Space Mission Data, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2002, pp. 1-9.
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available in formats that users need. Other data or information products (e.g., education and nonscientific applications products) are available on project Web sites but may require extensive searching to find, and their long-term availability is not assured. Further improvements in cataloging and documentation will be required to help users find data. Charge 2. How useful are current data collections and archives from NASA’s science missions as resources in support of high priority scientific studies in each Enterprise [i.e., NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise and Space Science Enterprise]? How well are areas such as data preservation, documentation, validation, and quality control being addressed? Are there significant obstacles to appropriately broad scientific use of the data? Are there impediments to distribution of derived data sets? Are there any changes in data handling and data dissemination that would improve usefulness? The use of archival data has contributed to a number of scientific advances in the Earth and space sciences (e.g., confirmation of the Antarctic ozone hole and the accelerating expansion of the universe). The large and growing number of users—coupled with the positive results of user surveys, external reviews, and the task group’s own experience with the data facilities—attests to the usefulness of the data in a wide variety of investigations. Many data sets will grow in value as the time period covered by the measurements lengthens. However, getting the most out of existing data sets will require the development of software tools for handling the data (e.g., for changing formats, subsetting large data sets, and querying and visualizing data sets) and improvements in documentation, user interfaces, and technical and scientific support. These improvements will be even more important for dealing with the projected growth in the volume of data (one to two orders of magnitude over the next 5 years) and the increasing need to integrate disparate data sets for both research and applications purposes. Maintaining accessibility and compatibility with changing standards for storage media, software tools, and so forth in the long term will present substantial challenges in terms of both cost and management. Although issues of validation and quality control of individual data sets were not directly addressed in this study, the task group’s generally positive findings about data usefulness suggest that these issues do not now pose either major or widespread obstacles to data use. However, they will require heightened attention in the future as demands on the active archives increase. NASA data have the potential to benefit society in many ways, but in order to exploit this potential it is necessary to provide support for the translation of scientific data into data products that are tailored for specific applications. These data products must be easily accessed and interpreted by people who are experts in the fields to which the data are being applied, but who will very likely have limited or no training in fields for which the data were originally collected. The work of Earth Science Information Partners, Regional Earth Science Application Centers, Infomarts, and similar applications programs is an important step in increasing the usefulness of NASA data. However, meeting the needs of the broader community would require a very substantial additional investment of resources, and such investments should be preceded by an assessment of the market for NASA information and a prioritization of investments according to cost-effectiveness and likely impact. Charge 3. Keeping in mind that NASA receives appropriated funds for both mission development as well as analysis of data from earlier or currently operating missions, is the balance between attention to mission planning and implementation versus data utilization appropriate in terms of achieving the objective of the Enterprises? Should the fraction of a mission’s life-cycle cost devoted to data analysis, processing, storage and accessibility be changed? Declines in funding for analysis of space science data in the 1990s have been reversed in recent years, although funding remains insufficient for analyzing data during extended missions or after missions have been completed. The major exception to this generalization is for long-lived astrophysics missions, where funding for data analysis, including analysis of archival data, is made available for a decade or more after launch. Despite changes in the way budgets are reported, the fragmented budget structure of both enterprises makes it difficult to quantify the adequacy or inadequacy of funding. Rigid guidelines for the balance between support for mission planning and implementation on the one hand and data utilization on the other are inappropriate. However, in view of the expected growth and diversification in the
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Recommendation. NASA should institute a specific program for the support of undergraduate research in solar and space physics at colleges and universities. The program should have the flexibility to support such research with either a supplement to existing grants or with a stand-alone grant. Recommendation. Over the next decade NASA and the NSF should fund groups to develop and disseminate solar and space physics educational resources (especially at the undergraduate level) and to train educators and scientists in the effective use of such resources. STRENGTHENING THE SOLAR AND SPACE PHYSICS RESEARCH ENTERPRISE Advances in understanding in solar and space physics will require strengthening a number of the infrastructural aspects of the nation’s solar and space physics program. The committee has identified several that depend on effective program management and policy actions for their success: (1) development of a stronger research community, (2) cost-effective use of existing resources, (3) ensuring cost-effective and reliable access to space, (4) improving interagency cooperation and coordination, and (5) facilitating international partnerships. Strengthening the solar and space physics research community. A diverse and high-quality community of research institutions has contributed to solar and space physics research over the years. The central role of the universities as research sites requires enhancement, strengthening, and stability. Recommendation. NASA should undertake an independent outside review of its existing policies and approaches regarding the support of solar and space physics research in academic institutions, with the objective of enabling the nation’s colleges and universities to be stronger contributors to this research field. Recommendation. NSF-funded national facilities for solar and space physics research should have resources allocated so that the facilities can be widely available to outside users. Cost-effective use of existing resources. Optimal return in solar and space physics is obtained not only through the judicious funding and management of new assets, but also through the maintenance and upgrading, funding, and management of existing facilities. Recommendation. The NSF and NASA should give all possible consideration to capitalizing on existing ground- and space-based assets as the goals of new research programs are defined. Access to space. The continuing vitality of the nation’s space research program is strongly dependent on having cost-effective, reliable, and readily available access to space that meets the requirements of a broad spectrum of diverse missions. The solar and space physics research community is especially dependent on the availability of a wide range of suborbital and orbital flight capabilities to carry out cutting-edge science programs, to validate new instruments, and to train new scientists. Suborbital flight opportunities are very important for advancing many key aspects of future solar and space physics research objectives and for enabling the contributions that such opportunities make to education. Recommendation. NASA should revitalize the Suborbital Program to bring flight opportunities back to previous levels. Low-cost launch vehicles with a wide spectrum of capabilities are critically important for the next generation of solar and space physics research, as delineated in this report. Recommendations: NASA should aggressively support the engineering research and development of a range of low-cost vehicles capable of launching payloads for scientific research. NASA should develop a memorandum of understanding with DOD that would delineate a formal procedure for identifying in advance flights of opportunity for civilian spacecraft as secondary payloads on certain Air Force missions. NASA should explore the feasibility of similar piggybacking on appropriate foreign scientific launches.
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The comparative study of planetary ionospheres and magnetospheres is a central theme of solar and space physics research. Recommendation. The scientific objectives of the NASA Discovery program should be expanded to include those frontier space plasma physics research subjects that cannot be accommodated by other spacecraft opportunities. The principal investigator (PI) model that has been used for numerous Explorer missions has been highly successful. Strategic missions such as those under consideration for the STP and LWS programs can benefit from emulating some of the management approach and structure of the Explorer missions. The committee believes that the science objectives of the solar and space physics missions currently under consideration are best achieved through a PI mode of mission management. Recommendation. NASA should (1) place as much responsibility as possible in the hands of the principal investigator, (2) define the mission rules clearly at the beginning, and (3) establish levels of responsibility and mission rules within NASA that are tailored to the particular mission and to its scope and complexity. Recommendation. The NASA official who is designated as the program manager for a given project should be the sole NASA contact for the principal investigator. One important task of the NASA official would be to ensure that rules applicable to large-scale, complex programs are not being inappropriately applied, thereby producing cost growth for small programs. Interagency cooperation and coordination. Interagency coordination over the years has yielded greater science returns than could be expected from single-agency activities. In the future, a research initiative at one agency could trigger a window of opportunity for a research initiative at another agency. Such an eventuality would leverage the resources contributed by each agency. Recommendation. The principal agencies involved in solar and space physics research—NASA, NSF, NOAA, and DOD—should devise and implement a management process that will ensure a high level of coordination in the field and that will disseminate the results of such a coordinated effort—including data, research opportunities, and related matters—widely and frequently to the research community. Recommendation. For space-weather-related applications, increased attention should be devoted to coordinating NASA, NOAA, NSF, and DOD research findings, models, and instrumentation so that new developments can quickly be incorporated into the operational and applications programs of NOAA and DOD. International partnerships. The geophysical sciences—in particular, solar and space physics—address questions of global scope and inevitably require international participation for their success. Collaborative research with other nations allows the United States to obtain data from other geographical regions that are necessary to determine the global distributions of space processes. Studies in space weather cannot be successful without strong participation from colleagues in other countries and their research capabilities and assets, in space and on the ground. Recommendation. Because of the importance of international collaboration in solar and space physics research, the federal government, especially the State Department and NASA, should implement clearly defined procedures regarding exchanges of scientific data or information on instrument characteristics that will facilitate the participation of researchers from universities, private companies, and nonprofit organizations in space research projects having an international component.
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3.9 Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research A Report of the Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization Executive Summary Earth science research has been significantly enhanced over the past several decades through the use of satellite remote sensing data. Advances in the spatial and spectral resolution of civil satellite data and the accumulation of these data over multiple time periods have made it possible for scientists to examine new types of research problems and environmental changes at both global and local scales. Although remote sensing data were initially obtained by scientists through satellites developed and launched by federal science agencies, the institutional landscape for the production of remote sensing data has become more diverse, with both government and the private sector actively involved in providing data for science. In addition, public-private partnerships have been established in which the government and the private sector collaborate to provide data for research; and, since the advent of operational sources of commercially produced data, remote sensing data for scientific research are also produced in the private sector itself. This diversification has been encouraged and fostered by the U.S. government through both congressional and executive branch action. Together, these forces have contributed to a changing environment for remote sensing and Earth science research. The Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization convened a workshop in March 2001 to explore the implications of the changing environment and the new relationships among researchers, government, and private sector remote sensing data providers. Its purpose was to examine such issues as scientific requirements for data obtained from the private sector, the distribution of scientific data obtained from private sector sources, continuity and permanent archiving of scientific data, data cost and access, and intellectual property considerations in the use of data obtained from the private sector (see Chapter 4). The steering committee oriented the workshop, entitled “Remote Sensing and Basic Research: The Changing Environment,“ to issues related to public and private sector relationships and interactions involving commercially provided remote-sensing data for scientific research. Attended by scientists, officials of federal science agencies, and representatives of the private sector, the workshop focused on the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Science Data Buy (SDB),1 public-private sector interactions that have been functioning for several years in the United States. This report draws heavily on information from a workshop planning meeting with agency sponsors, on information presented by workshop speakers and by participants in breakout group discussions, and on the expertise and viewpoints of the members of the Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization. It addresses domestic and civil issues related to public-private sector partnerships for remote sensing data. The recommendations are the consensus of the steering committee and are not necessarily those of the workshop participants. The primary focus of this report is on public-private sector relationships and interactions for the production and delivery of satellite remote sensing data for scientific research. Such relationships could include public-private partnerships; redistributor-end user relationships; and “anchor tenant” relationships, in which the public sector guarantees that it will be a customer of commercial remote sensing enterprises. The steering committee uses the generic term “public-private partnerships” to describe all of these relationships. Government and the private sector have come together on several previous occasions to produce remote sensing data. The relationship between Radarsat 1 and Radarsat International in Canada is that of a joint public-private venture, as is the relationship between Système pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT) satellite and Spot Image company in France; and in the United States, the federal government privatized the Landsat remote sensing program through a commercial operator, Earth Observation Satellite Company (EOSAT), during the mid-1980s and NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2002, pp. 1-8. 1 The NASA Science Data Buy is also known as the NASA Science Data Purchase. In this report the steering committee refers to the program as the Science Data Buy.
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early 1990s. These arrangements were devised to make it possible to market the data commercially, and the more recent SeaWiFS and SDB programs provide remote sensing data to scientists. The steering committee found significant differences in the operating practices and goals of the three groups— government, the private sector, and the scientific community—involved in public-private partnerships. Because the government is publicly accountable for all its actions, it must operate in a complex regulatory environment. Government agencies are also subject to the policy and fiscal priorities of both the White House and the U.S. Congress. (Although both of the public-private partnerships examined at the workshop were conducted by NASA, this report speaks of the government sector as a whole, since other government agencies may become involved in public-private partnerships for data in the future.) Private sector firms engaged in the development of satellites must recover their investment costs and make a profit, and, as a consequence, they must perceive a new public-private partnership to be financially viable before they will take part in it. Government acquisition of scientific data for research through an agreement with the private sector involves more than a simple commercial transaction. The partnership of entities with such dissimilar modes of operating inevitably raises complex issues related to how the new organization should function. Differences between the government and the private sector complicate negotiations on intellectual property and licensing agreements related to the use of privately owned remote sensing data, on data management and data continuity, on the development of measures of performance for public-private partnerships, and on realistic cost accounting in these partnerships (see the section below, “General Conclusions and Priority Issues“). These complications are heightened when the partnership is created to serve the needs of a third group—in this case, scientists who have their own requirements. According to scientists at the workshop, having access to the high-resolution and other commercially produced remote sensing data available through public-private partnerships is extremely valuable and makes new types of research possible. However, scientists also value the free and open exchange of scientific data; the capacity to validate scientific results through reanalysis of the data; the calibration, validation, and verification of satellite data to ensure accuracy; long-term stewardship of data for future research; and continuity of the data over multiple points in time. The intersection of scientific and commercial interests in public-private partnerships can pose challenges to meeting these requirements. It is not yet clear whether public-private partnerships will become the model for future institutions or are merely a temporary arrangement for obtaining data for research. It is clear, however, that existing public-private partnerships are valuable mechanisms for acquiring data that may not otherwise have been available to scientific researchers, that such partnerships have many advantages, and that they can be improved. Despite differences among the partners, clear benefits can be gained through their collaboration. The two public-private partnerships discussed at the workshop were instructive in terms of identifying both ways to meet the needs of commercial, government, and scientific participants in future partnerships and ways of improving how such partnerships function. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Licensing Finding. Full and open access2 to data and the opportunity both to replicate research findings and to conduct further research using the same data are critical to scientific research. Because private sector firms view their data as intellectual property, there may be additional costs or intellectual property problems in reusing the data for scientific research. The steering committee found that the Science Data Buy was, in fact, a “science data license.” Rather than purchasing the data, the government obtained licenses or data property rights from those commercial companies that specified terms for use of the data. This raises intellectual property issues related to the subsequent redistribution and archiving of the data according to standard scientific practices. Recommendation 1. The government partner in a public-private partnership should negotiate in its contract for open scientific distribution and reuse of data obtained under the partnership. 2 Several policy statements guarantee full and open access to government and scientific data. See National Research Council, Resolving Conflicts Arising from the Privatization of Environmental Data, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 2001, p. 18.
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Evaluation of Public-Private Partnerships for Science Data Finding. Two public-private partnership programs for science data—Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor and Science Data Buy—have been in operation for several years, and the initial phase of one of them, the SDB, has been completed. Formal program evaluation will help the government assess existing operations and understand how best to structure future programs. Recommendation 2. A formal, independent review of the Science Data Buy and of the SeaWiFS program should be conducted to evaluate the scientific benefits and the efficacy and economic benefits of each partnership to the parties involved. Broadening Participation of Scientists in the Science Data Buy Finding. All scientists at U.S. academic institutions should be able to compete for data from NASA’s Science Data Buy. Participation in the SDB is limited to current NASA grantees, but other academic scientists could usefully participate in the program. Recommendation 3. NASA should permit any academic scientist to compete for data under the Science Data Buy or successor programs. Data Continuity Finding. Continuity of remote sensing observations over long periods of time is essential for Earth system science and global change research, and it requires that scientists have access to repeated observations obtained over periods of many years. Data obtained through public-private partnerships could continue to be useful as historical or “heritage” data. As scientists expand their use of data from both public and private sources, problems may arise in combining remote sensing data from multiple sensors with different capabilities and characteristics. Research on sensor intercomparisons is necessary to ensure that data from multiple sources can be exploited for future, time-series research. This approach is preferable to that of maintaining older technologies to assure continuity. Recommendation 4. Existing remote sensing data series—for example, the Landsat series—within current or anticipated public-private partnerships should be maintained to provide comparable data for scientific research over time. Support should also be made available for research in either the scientific community or the private sector or both on how to generate seamless transitions from one data source to another as new sensors replace past or current sensors. Archiving Finding. Scientific data obtained through public-private partnerships must be available for future use through data centers and permanent archives. Since the government obtains a license for scientists to use data under existing public-private partnerships rather than purchasing the data, there are intellectual property issues related to depositing these data in open scientific archives. Archives and data centers should include data and relevant metadata that are amenable to reprocessing after algorithms have been improved. Recommendation 5. Data produced by the private sector in a public-private partnership should be archived for subsequent redistribution to scientists and for creating long time series of data. The government partner should negotiate for permission to do this. Calibration, Validation, and Verification Finding. Scientists require instrument characterization and data calibration to physical units with quantified uncertainty. Access to calibrated data is an essential precondition for many scientific uses of remote sensing data, to ensure the quality of the data and to ensure that data sets differing in spatial, temporal, or spectral coverage, or acquired by different instruments, are comparable. In public-private partnerships, the government has often assumed responsibility for calibration, validation, and verification. The steering committee commends the govern
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ment’s role in providing excellent calibration, validation, and verification of commercially obtained remote sensing data for scientific use. Recommendation 6. Public-private partnerships to acquire data for scientific research should ensure that the partnership agreement specifies who has responsibility for calibrating and validating the data, what the scope of the calibration and validation processes is, and what resources (financial, technical, and personnel) will be made available for these purposes. Standardization of Data Management Finding. Consistent approaches to documentation and preparation of data for long-term archiving are key to effective data stewardship in public-private partnerships. Recommendation 7. In the process of negotiating a public-private sector data partnership, the parties should agree to use commonly accepted standards for metadata, data formats, and data portability. Communication Finding. Communication among government data providers, commercial data providers, and scientists is vital to effective partnerships. The interests and needs of the scientific community can be best incorporated into a public-private sector relationship during the early planning stages of the partnership. More opportunities for formal and informal communication are needed at all stages, especially between scientists and private sector representatives. Recommendation 8. The government should facilitate direct communication between members of the scientific community and the private sector, including communication during the early stages of planning for public-private remote sensing programs. Performance Measures Finding. Public-private partnerships benefit from ongoing assessment, not just from retrospective evaluation. Performance measures should be tailored to the goals of the parties—that is, return on investment for industry, good science output for researchers, and cost-effective performance by government agencies. Recommendation 9. Representatives of government agencies and commercial firms involved in public-private partnerships, together with scientists who use the data in these programs, should define performance measures at the time the public-private partnership is established. These performance measures should be taken into account in formal program evaluations. Realistic Cost Accounting Finding. Obtaining scientific data through a public-private partnership can involve significant nontransaction costs, such as support for data dissemination and for validation and verification on the government side and the expense of contract changes and delays on the private sector side. These buried costs may serve as a disincentive to future public-private partnerships. Recommendation 10. Public-private partnerships for producing scientific data should practice realistic cost accounting, making all the costs of the partnership transparent and open to negotiation. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS AND PRIORITY ISSUES The steering committee found that several issues must be addressed in creating future public-private partnerships that produce remote sensing data for scientific research. Many of these issues are referred to in the findings and recommendations outlined above (licensing, data continuity, performance measures, and realistic cost accounting), while others such as the impact of government processes on public-private partnerships (e.g., contracting
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TABLE ES.1 Complexity and Significance of Cross-Cutting Issues Higher Complexity Lower Complexity Higher Significance Intellectual property and licensing Impact of government processes Data management Data continuity Lower Significance Performance metrics Realistic cost accounting arrangements), intellectual property rights, and data management are discussed in the body of the report (see Chapter 4). The steering committee prioritized these issues according to their significance for public-private partnerships and the degree of complexity and difficulty expected to be involved in resolving them (see Table ES.1). The most significant and complex issues to be addressed for public-private partnerships are those related to intellectual property and licensing and to government processes. Little convergence exists between the public and private sectors on these topics, and yet future actions will have significant impact on the use of commercial remote sensing data for scientific research. Data management (e.g., data archiving and processing) and data continuity are rated by the steering committee as highly significant but of lesser complexity, because they can be addressed readily if financial resources are available. Measures of performance (metrics) for public-private partnerships were deemed highly complex, owing to the difficulty in determining performance measures, but of lesser significance than other issues involved in establishing successful public-private partnerships for providing remote sensing data for scientific research. The steering committee considered realistic cost accounting critical for creating future, successful partnerships, but of lower significance and complexity than other issues it analyzes in the report.
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3.10 Using Remote Sensing in State and Local Government: Information for Management and Decision Making A Report of the Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization Executive Summary The past decade has seen significant improvement in the spatial and spectral resolution of the civil remote sensing data available to state, local, and regional governments. With the development of advanced airborne remote sensing technologies like lidar (light detection and ranging) and the launch of high-resolution, commercial remote sensing satellites, state and local jurisdictions now have the opportunity to obtain digital data at resolutions approaching those of aerial photography. State and local users of remote sensing data can also access data from the Landsat series for comparisons and detection of change over decades. As important as these improvements in the quality and availability of remote sensing data is the growing number of geospatial data management and analysis tools available for use by state and local governments. With geographic information systems (GIS), digital remote sensing data can now be integrated with other types of digital data currently managed by state and local governments. Such technological advances can foster the development of remote sensing applications in the nonfederal public sector. However, the use of remote sensing data and applications involves more than the underlying technical capacity. From the perspective of the remote sensing applications end user in state, local, or regional government, what is important is the information that remote sensing applications can make available, not the raw data per se. Equally important, the ability of a state or local government agency or jurisdiction to take advantage of recent technological advances depends on institutional, leadership, budgetary, procedural, and even personnel factors. To examine the full range of factors that have led to the development of successful applications of remote sensing data in state and local governments and to identify common problems encountered in this process, the Space Studies Board’s Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization organized the workshop “Facilitating Public Sector Uses of Remote Sensing Data.“ Presentations at the workshop included case studies of the adoption and use of remote sensing applications in local government (Baltimore, Maryland; Richland County, South Carolina; and Boulder County, Colorado), state government (Missouri, Washington, and North Carolina), and regional government (the Portland metropolitan area in Oregon and the communities of the Red River Valley along the North Dakota–Minnesota boundary); information on remote sensing applications in specific sectors and on patterns of adoption; and technical material on sensors. The workshop was attended by representatives of state, local, and regional governments, the federal government, the private sector, and universities. The case studies illustrate some, not all, of the uses of remote sensing data in state and local government. The issues they raise are not specific to any single type of data or application. At the same time, certain uses of remote sensing data, especially in operational applications, may involve challenges and issues that are not directly addressed in this report. This report draws on the information presented in the workshop, the workshop planning meeting with agency sponsors, and the expertise and viewpoints of the steering committee. For this reason, technical information is kept to a minimum. The report and its recommendations are the consensus of the steering committee and not necessarily of the workshop participants. The report is directed to those in state, local, and regional governments who make crucial decisions about both the commitment of resources to developing remote sensing capabilities and the use of remote sensing information in the public sector. The steering committee envisions that the report will also be useful to geospatial professionals in state, local, and regional government who work with those managers and decision makers; to remote sensing data providers in the federal government and the private sector; and to federal officials who interact with the nonfederal public sector on issues that require geospatial data. NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Using Remote Sensing in State and Local Government: Information for Management and Decision Making, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003, pp. 1-7; approved for release in 2002.
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BASIC OBSERVATIONS The steering committee found that the context for the use of remote sensing applications in state, local, and regional governments differs significantly from that for other applications. Responsible primarily for providing public services and governance, state and local governments are supported by tax revenues that can vary considerably from year to year, and political considerations can also influence decision making. Many workshop participants spoke of budget shortfalls and stringencies they were experiencing or expected to experience in the next several years that could negatively influence the adoption and use of remote sensing data and information. From the perspective of a commercial firm seeking to supply remote sensing data or services, the scale of the public sector can pose serious problems. The sheer number of state, local, and regional governments increases the costs of providing them with remote sensing data. There are 50 states and more than 3,100 counties in the United States; the New York City metropolitan area alone contains 31 counties and over 1,600 jurisdictions. In addition, nonfederal government decision making about new technologies is complicated and often requires buy-in from multiple parts of the government. Even if there were some timely way to determine which jurisdictions were prepared to buy remote sensing data or services, negotiating separate small contracts might not be cost-effective for large, commercial remote sensing firms. From the perspective of state and local governments, moreover, there are benefits of working with local firms and universities rather than with data or other service providers from outside the immediate region. Proximity has always been a factor for governments working with small aerial photography firms, for example, and local firms establish long-term relationships with local government agencies. The steering committee found that adoption of remote sensing data and information products in the nonfederal public sector has been affected by several aspects of policy and operations. These include (1) financial and budgetary constraints; (2) institutional, organizational, and political issues; (3) the geospatial experience, skills, and training available in the jurisdiction; (4) the capacity to make the transition from photographic to digital data; and (5) licensing and data management. The steering committee also found that the adoption of remote sensing data and applications is often related to having a strong advocate for the new technology who can persuade technical personnel, managers, decision makers, and even the public about the utility of the data and information. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Improving Management and Efficiency It is advantageous for public sector jurisdictions considering the use of new remote sensing technologies to learn from the organizational practices of governments that have already used remote sensing applications successfully. Geospatial Data Management Finding: Some state and local governments have taken an ad hoc, decentralized approach to using remote sensing data. Individual departments or offices took it upon themselves to obtain the remote sensing data they needed for a specific application or project. Where there was no city- or statewide inventory of data, the independent purchases of data resulted in multiple acquisitions of the same remote sensing images and inefficient management and use of geospatial data resources. Certain municipal governments, however, took a more centralized approach, locating remote sensing resources within geospatial data or information offices under the direction of technical staff proficient in the use of geospatial data. Budgetary and staffing limitations, coupled with the increased convergence of digital technologies, including geospatial data from GIS, satellite, and airborne remote sensing and even global positioning systems, suggest that an approach in which a single administrative entity manages geospatial data is more cost-effective than a decentralized approach and facilitates use of the data by state and local governments. Recommendation 1. A state, local, or regional government should consider making a single unit responsible for managing its geospatial data, information, and technologies.
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Cross-Jurisdictional Remote Sensing Data Cooperatives Finding: The cost of obtaining and managing remote sensing data can be prohibitive for state, local, and regional government departments or agencies, particularly during a period of budgetary shortfalls. The steering committee found that some governments in the nonfederal public sector have successfully joined together to form local or regional cooperatives or consortia that purchase remote sensing data for all members of the group. Data cooperatives can also help small jurisdictions to manage remote sensing and other digital data. Recommendation 2. Public officials responsible for obtaining and using geospatial data should examine the benefits of forming multijurisdictional consortia or cooperatives to reduce duplication of cost and effort. Procurement Processes Finding: Public sector procurement processes for the purchase of remote sensing data can be lengthy and time-consuming, making it difficult for a jurisdiction to obtain timely authorization for purchasing such data. In addition, public sector accounting processes are most effective in dealing with marginal changes in budgets that are relatively constant from year to year. Remote sensing data may constitute a major purchase needed on an irregular basis, which can be difficult to accommodate in normal public sector accounting practices. Recommendation 3. State and local government budget and procurement practices should be examined and modified, if necessary, to facilitate acquisition of multiyear remote sensing data. An independent body such as the Government Accounting Standards Board—a private, nonprofit institution that develops accounting reporting standards for state, local, county, and other nonfederal government entities—or another independent accounting organization could be consulted for input on how to account more effectively for expenditures on remote sensing data. Recommendation 4. State and local governments should explore the feasibility of establishing long-term purchase agreements with local institutions or vendors to give themselves flexibility in obtaining remote sensing data. Creating a More Effective Public Sector Market for Remote Sensing Data A large and active public sector market for remote sensing data and information will provide economies of scale for governments seeking cost-effective remote sensing applications and for the public, private, and international vendors that supply data and services to state and local governments (see “Working with the Private Sector,” in Chapter 4). The steering committee learned several ways in which a more active and effective market for state and local applications of remote sensing data and information can be created. Standards for Digital Spatial Data and Information Products Finding: The increasing use of digital remote sensing data rather than photographic data by state and local governments means that new standards are needed for digital spatial data and information. The advantages of commonly accepted digital spatial data standards include reduced cost, improved ability to use the data for multiple purposes, standardization of technical training, and quality assurance. The adoption of digital data standards would require that procurement regulations for many state and local government entities be revised. Common standards for digital data could be developed by a coordinating body funded by the federal government that includes representatives of both data users and data providers. The federal agencies involved in the effort could determine which agency should take the lead. Recommendation 5. The U.S. government, in collaboration with professional organizations, state and local governments, and vendors, should take the lead in establishing standards for digital spatial data and information products.
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Private Actions to Build a Public Sector Market Finding: Although commercial providers of remote sensing data recognize the potential economic significance of the nonfederal public sector market for remote sensing data, they often do not do enough to stimulate its development and growth. Recommendation 6. To help remedy the lack of trained remote sensing personnel in state and local governments and to raise awareness of the advantages of working with satellite remote sensing data, commercial satellite data providers and remote sensing digital image processing vendors should look to GIS software companies as models for building the state and local government market. Licensing Finding: The licensing provisions of commercial satellite data companies seem restrictive, offering little flexibility to state and local governments. Strictly followed, commercial licensing provisions can add to the cost of data in the nonfederal public sector and can result in redundant purchases of the same data within a single jurisdiction, creating a disincentive for state, local, and regional governments to purchase data from the private sector. Although representatives of private remote sensing firms suggested that it is possible to negotiate new licensing agreements based on specific needs, officials in the nonfederal public sector reported that they had not been made aware of this flexibility. Recommendation 7. Private sector providers of remote sensing images should offer standard information about flexibility in their pricing policies, ensuring that the information is widely available, especially information about establishing jurisdiction-wide site licenses or long-term purchase agreements for state and local governments. Opportunities to Work with the Public Sector Finding: There is no single source of information on prospective remote sensing data needs of state, local, and regional governments. This limits the market to local firms or those that have personal contacts with a jurisdiction seeking bids for data or services. The failure to notify a larger potential contractor community may stifle competition and result in higher costs. Recommendation 8. Associations of state and local governments should establish national or statewide opportunities/forums for state, local, and regional governments to advertise their needs for remote sensing data. Cooperation Between the Federal and Nonfederal Public Sectors Finding: The steering committee found widespread cooperation between federal agencies and state, local, and regional governments in initiating remote sensing applications programs. Much of this cooperation, however, took place within federal programs that support state and local government use of remote sensing data for specific programmatic objectives. Some state and local government representatives are seeking general infrastructure, support, or guidance on how they might take advantage of remote sensing data or applications programs supported by the federal government. There appears to be an unfulfilled need for a point of contact at federal agencies to help state and local users obtain information and facilitate collaboration between state and local users and federal agencies. Recommendation 9. Federal agencies should have a formal point of contact for representatives of state and local governments that need technical assistance or want to identify sources of financial assistance for their use of remote sensing applications.
Representative terms from entire chapter: