FIGURE 3.1 NASA Earth Science Division budget from fiscal year (FY) 1996 to FY2011 (actual) and projections out to FY2016, based on the President’s FY2012 budget request in constant FY2006 year dollars, as compared to the 2007 decadal survey recommendation. SOURCE: NASA budget data from Michael Freilich, Director, NASA Earth Science Division, “Earth Science Division Decadal Survey Status,” presentation to the Committee on the Assessment of NASA’s Earth Science Program, April 27, 2011.


missions and related programs set forth in the survey.2 The favorable response to the decadal survey by the administration and Congress and passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 reversed this decline. However, budget stalemates in FY2010 and FY2011 and an austere forward-looking FY2012 request have resulted in ESD being funded at less than the $1.5 billion level for the foreseeable future, far below what the survey recommended (see Figure 3.1). This failure to restore the Earth science budget to a $2 billion (FY2006) level, as recommended by the survey, is the primary reason for the inability of NASA to realize the mission launch cadence recommended by the survey. Increases in scope directed by Congress and the administration (e.g., the addition of the $150 million Thermal Infrared Sensor on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission and the establishment of the Climate Continuity missions3) without the commensurate required funding, further strained an already-limited ESD budget. This constraint was compounded by the need for an OCO mission and the decision to build its replacement following the 2009 launch vehicle failure.

The resulting delay in implementing the planned and recommended Earth observation missions, coupled with the currently predicted mission end dates for many operating missions, has led to a projected rapid net decrease in total NASA Earth science missions. Figure 3.2 is an updated version of a similar chart of mission and instrument trends that was produced by the 2007 decadal survey. Using agency estimates

2National Research Council, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007.

3The Climate Continuity missions include SAGE-III (2015), OCO-3 (2015), GRACE-FO (2016), and PACE (2019-2020).

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