FIGURE 4.2 HICO image of the Straits of Gibraltar, December 5, 2009. SOURCE: Naval Research Laboratory; available at http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu/gallery/gallery-scenes.shtml.


of simultaneity is based on position within the train; train permanence (with its composition changing over time);36 a ready mechanism for international cooperation; technology insertion, with research and operational technologies operating side by side; the avoidance of engineering complexities and management difficulties associated with integration on a common bus; and a more agile and cost-effective replacement of individual sensors. Also important is the role of formation flight in enabling Earth system science by moving away from a single parameter and sensor-centric approach toward a systems approach that ties observations together to study processes important to understanding Earth-system feedbacks.37


Finding: Alternative platforms and flight formations offer programmatic flexibility. In some cases, they may be employed to lower the cost of meeting science objectives and/or maturing remote sensing and in situ observing technologies.

36S.W. Boland, M.D. Garcia, M. Vincent, S. Hu, P.J. Guske, and D. Crisp, “Ground Track Selection for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Mission,” American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011, abstract #A33C-0242, American Geophysical Union, 2011.

37For example, the combination of water vapor and temperature from AIRS, together with proper cloud screening tested with other data, has provided insight on the strength of water vapor feedback; the combination of MODIS, AMSR-E, and CloudSat has revealed new insights on rain-forming processes, thus exposing major biases in climate model parameterizations; and the combination of AIRS, CloudSat, and CERES is being used to understand the sources of seasonal loss of sea ice in the Arctic.

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