TABLE E.1 Recommendations from the 2007 Decadal Survey and NASA Responses in 2009 and 2011

Decadal Survey Recommendation NASA’s Response (2009)a NASA Update (2011)b
Recommendation: The U.S. government, working in concert with the private sector, academe, the public, and its international partners, should renew its investment in Earth-observing systems and restore its leadership in Earth science and applications. (p. 2) The committee predicated its schedules and program on a NASA ESD budget that reached the level of $2B/year (approximately equal to the FY2000 level) in 2010. The Obama administration’s FY2010 budget for NASA ESD is $1.405B exclusive of carry-over funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), increasing steadily by about $50M/year thereafter. (p. 2) The decadal survey predicated its schedules and program on a NASA ESD budget that reached the level of $2 billion/year [FY2006 $] in FY2010 (approximately equal to the FY2000 level).

ESD has focused resources on the development and rapid launch of Foundational Missions (pre-decadal survey: OSTM, OCO, Glory, NPP, LDCM, GPM and added decadal survey-recommended actions, including serving in international leadership/coordination roles. (p. 3)
Between 2006 and the end of the decade, the number of operating missions will decrease dramatically, and the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA spacecraft, most of which are well past their nominal lifetimes, will decrease by some 40 percent (see Figures ES.1 and ES.2)…. Among the many measurements expected to cease over the next few years, the committee has identified several that are providing critical information now and that need to be sustained into the next decade—both to continue important time series and to provide the foundation necessary for the recommended future observations. These include measurements of total solar irradiance and Earth radiation and vector sea-surface winds; limb sounding of ozone profiles; and temperature and water vapor soundings from geostationary and polar orbits. (p. 3) While it is true that 14 of the 15 operating NASA research missions are or soon (within a year) will be beyond their design lives—and in some cases (e.g., QuikSCAT) have been operating for more than 3 times their design lives, the 2009 Senior Review assessed the technical status of each mission and noted that only ICESAT-1 was expected to become scientifically useless prior to 2012. The decadal survey committee observation is valid, however, in that many of these satellites in extended mission have suffered partial failures in redundant systems, and are thus down to single-string operations. (p. 2)

At present (April 2011)—of the 13 operating missions at the time of the decadal survey:

—   12 missions continue to operate substantially as designed

—   ICESAT-1 was terminated owing to laser failure (beyond design life)

—   QuikSCAT operates, but not in wind mode (antenna; beyond design life)

—   Cloudsat is experiencing significant battery issues (beyond design life)

—   GRACE is experiencing battery issues (beyond design life)

—   Landsat-7 quality degraded (beyond design life)

—   2011 Sr. Review is ongoing and will report out in June, 2011

—   OSTM/Jason-2 successfully launched and operating

—   OCO, Glory launch vehicle failures (p. 5)

Recommendation: NOAA should restore several key climate, environmental, and weather observation capabilities to its planned NPOESS and GOES-R missions, namely:    


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