•  Develop a strategy to restore the previously planned capability to make high temporal and vertical-resolution measurements of temperature and water vapor from geosynchronous orbit.

The high-temporal- and high-vertical-resolution measurements of temperature and water vapor from geosynchronous orbit were originally to be delivered by the Hyperspectral Environmental Sensor (HES) on the GOES-R spacecraft. Recognizing the technological challenges and accompanying potential for growth in acquisition costs for HES, the committee recommends consideration of the following approaches:

•  Working with NASA, complete the GIFTS instrument, deliver it to orbit via a cost-effective launch and spacecraft opportunity, and evaluate its potential to be a prototype for the HES instrument, and/or

•  Extend the HES study contracts focusing on cost-effective approaches to achieving essential sounding capabilities to be flown in the GOES-R time frame.

The second set of recommendations pertained to transitions from research to operations (p. 8, table omitted):

•   NOAA should transition to operations three research observations. These are vector sea surface winds, GPS radio occultation temperature, water vapor, and electron density sounders; and total solar irradiance (restored to NPOESS). Approaches to these transitions are provided through the recommended XOVWM, GPSRO, and CLARREO missions listed in Table ES.1.


NOAA satellite programs continue to be impacted by budget shortfalls and financial burdens associated with the NPOESS, now JPSS, program. In particular, the President’s request for JPSS for FY2011 was $1.07 billion, yet Congress appropriated less than $400 million, a shortfall of more than $700 million. As NOAA struggles to implement JPSS in time to avoid a potential gap in measurements from the currently operating instruments that provide data used to support numerical weather prediction, other NOAA satellite programs and the 2007 decadal survey’s recommended missions are being delayed or canceled. Details on the NOAA satellite program follow.


In June 2006, as a consequence of the Nunn-McCurdy review by the DOD (required by the Congress because of a projected overrun greater than 25 percent), a restructured NPOESS program was announced that did not include a number of climate sensors.3 In early 2010, the joint DOD/NOAA/NASA NPOESS program was canceled in favor of returning to the pre-NPOESS plan of having separate DOD and NOAA polar orbiting weather satellite programs, namely NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and DOD’s Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). Described briefly below is the status, as of late January 2012, of the climate sensors that were “demanifested” from NPOESS:

•   Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS). APS was planned to fly on NASA’s Glory mission in 2011; however, the Taurus XL launch vehicle being used to launch Glory failed to provide the proper separation of the launch vehicle fairing, resulting in the loss of the mission.

3National Research Council, Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008.

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