infusion of new technology and ideas into Earth science programs and to build human capacity for future scientific and technological advances—have been repeatedly delayed.

In addition, the committee is concerned that significant resources for the research and analysis (R&A)10 programs that sustain the interpretation of Earth science data have been reallocated either as a result of the removal of the “firewall” that previously existed between flight and science programs or as an unintended consequence of NASA’s shift to full-cost accounting. Because the R&A programs are carried out largely through the nation’s universities, there will be an immediate and deleterious impact on graduate student, postdoctoral, and faculty research support. The long-term consequence will be a diminished ability to attract and retain students interested in using and developing Earth observations. Taken together, these developments jeopardize U.S. leadership in both Earth science and Earth observations, and they undermine the vitality of the government-university-private sector partnership that has made so many contributions to society.

In Chapter 3 the committee makes a number of recommendations to restore the health of the Earth observations and related research and operational effort in the United States and to set the stage for steady advances in Earth science and applications over the next decade.


R&A has customarily supplied funds for enhancing fundamental understanding in a discipline and stimulating the questions from which new scientific investigations flow. R&A studies also enable conversion of raw instrument data into fields of geophysical variables and are an essential component in support of the research required to convert data analyses to trends, processes, and improvements in simulation models. They are likewise necessary for improving calibrations and evaluating the limits of both remote and in situ data. Without adequate R&A, the large and complex task of acquiring, processing, and archiving geophysical data would go for naught. Finally, the next generation of Earth scientists—the graduate students in universities—are often educated by performing research that has originated in R&A efforts. See National Research Council, Earth Observations from Space: History, Promise, and Reality (Executive Summary), National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 26 pp., 1995.

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