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Assessment of the NASA Applied Sciences Program
To produce this chapter, the committee drew on presentations and written input from agency representatives. In addition, the committee presented questions to ASP (Appendix B; ASP, 2006). The committee received ample information from some agencies, particularly NOAA (NOAA Research Council, 2006), either through meeting presentations or material submitted in response to committee questions. Not all ASP partnerships with other agencies were as readily documented.
THE PROCESS OF ENGAGEMENT
A variety of constraints influence ASP’s collaboration with federal partners and its processes to promote collaboration. The committee examined several federal partnerships to understand common elements and areas for improvement. Each of the five examples below describes partner agencies’ requirements, mechanisms used in collaboration with ASP to enhance the partnership process, and the results. The examples begin with the most mature partnerships.
Unevenness in NASA’s Relationships with Federal Partners
NRC (2007a) observed that “new measurements for applications in weather forecasting can be evaluated within the existing structures of NASA and NOAA because those agencies have for the most part worked out the processes by which the importance of such measurements can be evaluated, notwithstanding the known difficulties of transitioning new measurements to operations. However, new measurements for land-cover, geological hazards, or water resources, to mention just a few, do not have existing relationships between client agencies and the space agencies that naturally lead to evaluation of their potential for applications. New measurements that would be relevant to such critical issues as deforestation and the loss of biological diversity or interruption of ecosystem services essentially have no client agency, and must rely on individual university researchers or staff in non-governmental organizations to lobby the space agencies, without benefit of strong institutional ties to those agencies.”