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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships
scientific and technical purposes, and supports related science. NASA-developed technology provided the first synoptic views of Earth, and NASA Earth observation programs have since evolved into the present international operational and research missions for remote sensing of processes in the atmosphere and at the ocean and land surfaces. The great difficulty in observing the ocean by conventional means (ships and buoys) led oceanographers early in the post-Sputnik period to recognize the value of spaceborne observations.
In the more than 30 years since satellite imagery was first demonstrated, NASA and the ocean community have achieved notable successes. Satellite-measured sea surface temperatures are now routine input for weather and climate forecasting. NASA guided this technology to its present mature operational state. The Seasat and Nimbus-7 missions demonstrated the validity of the idea that the ocean surface's shape and color could be measured from space and would be useful. Data from these two satellite missions are still used by ocean scientists.
As part of the Earth Observing System (EOS), NASA plans a major data and information system, the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). EOSDIS will contribute to the Global Change Data and Information System, a joint venture of NASA, NOAA, and USGS mentioned earlier. Oceanographic data will form an important part of these data systems, and the oceanographic community should ensure that it is well represented on the advisory and management groups for these systems. Beginning in the early 1980s, NASA worked with the academic oceanography community to develop a plan for satellite oceanography and to build a first-class national oceanographic satellite capability. NASA established excellent scientific centers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Goddard Space Flight Center, and put together an effective headquarters team that oversaw the centers' research and supported research at academic institutions, many of them outside the mainstream oceanographic institutions. This effort, which was endorsed at the highest levels of the agency, led to a period of extremely effective collaboration and joint projects. Both NASA and the institutions learned from each other: NASA, a large federal agency oriented toward massive team efforts extending over many years, and the research community, which is often interested in smaller projects lasting no longer than a graduate student's thesis period.
The investment that NASA made in marine science in the