The committee’s findings are summarized for the following areas:

  • data continuity;

  • geospatial and temporal resolution;

  • data quality;

  • format interoperability;

  • unused data;

  • data latency;

  • data on physical characteristics of the environment;

  • the Applications Implementation Working Group website; and

  • benchmark reports.

All findings in this section point to the general need for enhanced user feedback mechanisms and processes for considering user needs.

Data Continuity

The user community is particularly concerned about data continuity. Older satellite systems and instruments, such as Landsat, offer familiarity to users. Landsat has provided continuous global coverage since 1972 and AVHRR since 1979. While the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 identifies a privately funded and managed system as the preferred option for a successor to Landsat, commercial data providers indicate that there is an insufficient market to justify the private investment that would be required to fly a commercial Landsat-like system. Users are reluctant to build practical applications based on NASA remote sensing data streams that may not exist in the near future or that are considered experimental. Operationally it is difficult to take data from Landsat and substitute that for other data and get equivalent results. Because the licensing provisions for commercial companies restrict sharing of information in its original form with other users, commercial vendors are reluctant to build software that will accommodate new instruments that are considered experimental. The issue of continuity transcends the Landsat and AVHRR datasets in that commercial applications depend on reliable data delivery over the long term. If a dataset is not available at a crucial time or is not scheduled for operational delivery, the cost of developing products for these research-level data products is not justified economically.

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