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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE

History, Promise, and Reality

Executive Summary

Committee on Earth Studies

Space Studies Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1995



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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE History, Promise, and Reality Executive Summary Committee on Earth Studies Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1995

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided under NASA Contract NASW 4627 and NOAA Contract 50-DGNE-1-00138. Copies of this Executive Summary are available from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality COMMITTEE ON EARTH STUDIES JOHN H. McELROY, University of Texas, Arlington, Chair WILLIAM D. BONNER, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research GEORGE H. BORN,* Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research JANET W. CAMPBELL,* University of New Hampshire DUDLEY B. CHELTON, JR.,* Oregon State University JOHN V. EVANS, COMSAT Laboratories INEZ Y. FUNG, University of Victoria, British Columbia ELAINE R. HANSEN, University of Colorado ROY L. JENNE, National Center for Atmospheric Research EDWARD T. KANEMASU, * University of Georgia RICHARD F. KOTT, * Center for Geographic Analysis, Assessment, and Applications CONWAY B. LEOVY,* University of Washington JOHN S. MacDONALD,* MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates PAMELA E. MACK, Clemson University RICHARD K. MOORE, University of Kansas STANLEY A. MORAIN, University of New Mexico PETER M.P. NORRIS, Business Management (retired) CLARK WILSON,* University of Texas RICHARD C. HART, Senior Program Officer CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Senior Program Assistant * Former member.

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality SPACE STUDIES BOARD CLAUDE R. CANIZARES, Chair Massachusetts Institute of Technology, LOUIS J. LANZEROTTI, Chair* AT&T Bell Laboratories, JOHN A. ARMSTRONG, IBM Corporation (retired) LAWRENCE BOGORAD, Harvard University JOSEPH A. BURNS,* Cornell University JOHN J. DONEGAN, U.S. Navy (retired) ANTHONY W. ENGLAND, University of Michigan JAMES P. FERRIS,* Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute DANIEL J. FINK, D.J. Fink Associates, Inc. HERBERT FRIEDMAN,* Naval Research Laboratory MARTIN E. GLICKSMAN, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute RONALD GREELEY, Arizona State University BILL GREEN, former member, U.S. House of Representatives HAROLD J. GUY,* University of California, San Diego NOEL W. HINNERS, Lockheed Martin Astronautics ROBERT A. LAUDISE,* AT&T Bell Laboratories RICHARD S. LINDZEN,* Massachusetts Institute of Technology JANET G. LUHMANN, University of California, Berkeley JOHN H. McELROY, University of Texas, Arlington WILLIAM J. MERRELL, JR.,* Texas A&M University ROBERTA BALSTAD MILLER, Consortium for International Earth Sciences Information Network BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire NORMAN F. NESS,* University of Delaware MARCIA NEUGEBAUER,* Jet Propulsion Laboratory MARY JANE OSBORN, University of Connecticut Health Center SIMON OSTRACH, Case Western Reserve University JEREMIAH P. OSTRIKER,* Princeton University CARLÉ M. PIETERS, Brown University JUDITH PIPHER,* University of Rochester MARCIA J. RIEKE, University of Arizona ROLAND W. SCHMITT, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (retired) JOHN A. SIMPSON, University of Chicago WILLIAM A. SIRIGNANO,* University of California, Irvine JOHN W. TOWNSEND,* NASA (retired) FRED W. TUREK,* Northwestern University ARTHUR B.C. WALKER, JR.,* Stanford University MARC S. ALLEN, Director * Former member.

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS ROBERT J. HERMANN, Chair United Technologies Corporation, STEPHEN L. ADLER, Institute for Advanced Study PETER M. BANKS, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan SYLVIA T. CEYER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology L. LOUIS HEGEDUS, W.R. Grace and Company JOHN E. HOPCROFT, Cornell University RHONDA J. HUGHES, Bryn Mawr College SHIRLEY A. JACKSON, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission KENNETH I. KELLERMANN, National Radio Astronomy Observatory KEN KENNEDY, Rice University HANS MARK, University of Texas, Austin THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology JEROME SACKS, National Institute of Statistical Sciences L.E. SCRIVEN, University of Minnesota CHARLES P. SLICHTER, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ALVIN W. TRIVELPIECE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory SHMUEL WINOGRAD, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center CHARLES A. ZRAKET, MITRE Corporation (retired) NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality Every year if not every day we wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. —Oliver Wendell Holmes 1809-1894

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality Preface The Space Studies Board (SSB) and its committees conduct periodic reviews of the status of space science and applications. The most recent SSB reports on earth observations include Space Science in the Twenty-First Century, Imperatives for the Decades 1995 to 2015—Mission to Planet Earth (Task Group on Earth Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1988), Strategy for Earth Explorers in Global Earth Sciences (Committee on Earth Sciences, National Academy Press, 1989), and Assessment of Satellite Earth Observation Programs—1991 (Committee on Earth Studies, National Academy Press, 1991). This current report was written by the SSB's standing Committee on Earth Studies (CES). Since the most recent reports on earth observations, major changes have occurred in (1) the breadth of the SSB/CES charter, (2) the policy and budget environment in which the national civil earth observations programs are being conducted, and (3) the content of the earth observations programs themselves. The committee comments on the first of these matters below and expands on the others in Chapter 1. An important objective of the CES has been to assemble a coherent history of the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) program. The committee members (see Appendix B) found this to be a challenging task but believed that it was important to undertake it while it remained feasible. To achieve this objective, the CES considered it essential to collect in a single document the numerous threads that have been intertwined to create the earth observations programs that exist today, and to do so in a manner that would not require readers to have access to limited-distribution documents. For all practical purposes, many of the key documents are already nearly unavailable. Some readers may be disconcerted by the lengthy extracts included in this report, but the committee found their inclusion to be the best way to capture the origins, rationale, and critiques of the MPTE program. To give some measure of the background materials, the committee notes that its library of relevant documents occupies some 40 feet of bookshelves. Although this report originated within the SSB, the CES also refers to the numerous reports and recommendations from other boards and committees of the National Research Council (NRC) that address earth observations, as well as to the critiques and recommendations of other advisory bodies since the publication in 1982 of Global Change: Impacts on Habitability, a NASA study chaired by Richard Goody. In the aggregate, literally hundreds of recommendations have been made regarding the conduct of earth observations. Figure P.1 illustrates some of the complexities that arise in reviewing earth observations programs. The first problem is that space-based observations are a measurement means rather than an end in themselves. They serve earth science and applications needs that also rely on terrestrial in situ measurements and analytical studies and that employ integrated data sets (both current and historical) and mathematical models of physical-chemical-biological processes. Therefore, although the principal focus of this report is space-based observing systems, the broader perspective cannot and must not be ignored. As shown in Figure P.1, space-based observations consist of NASA's MTPE, which is the umbrella program encompassing the Earth Observing System (EOS), Earth Probes, and

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality FIGURE P.1 Interrelationships among earth observations programs. Landsat-7; the operational systems of NOAA and the Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP); and commercial systems whose data may be integrated into the overall activity as well. Both space-based and terrestrial systems support monitoring, process studies, modeling, and focused investigations of specific phenomena. Monitoring serves operational forecasting requirements, produces long-term records of earth system trends, and may capture episodic events that would otherwise be missed. Process studies clarify the interactions of physical-chemical-biological parameters. Monitoring and process studies jointly provide boundary conditions and mathematical descriptions of the mechanisms required in predictive models of the earth system. Targeted investigations are used to address focused scientific questions. Insofar as NASA is concerned, the charter of the CES is unchanged since the SSB's 1991 Assessment of Satellite Earth Observation Programs, in which it was stated (emphasis added), The Committee on Earth Studies (CES—called the Committee on Earth Sciences prior to 1989) provides continuing guidance to the Space Studies Board (SSB) in the areas of earth sciences and related remote sensing applications. The scope of its scientific advice incorporates all earth science disciplines that can be addressed from space, including studies of the atmosphere, ocean, geology and geophysics, global biology and ecology, and their interactions. The committee also identifies policy issues and provides advice concerning priorities in civil and unclassified remote sensing of the Earth, with special attention given to institutional roles and relationships among the various academic, government, and private sector entities involved. As a standing committee of the SSB, the CES assists in carrying out studies, monitoring the implementation of strategies, and providing recommendations to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other government agencies. The above charter could be interpreted to include NOAA's satellites from the perspective of their interface with the NASA program. However, the charter was broadened by a specific request from NOAA in 1991 to review its planning for future operational observation systems. NOAA asked that the CES examine NOAA's operational polar-orbiting satellites, geostationary satellites, extensive international partnerships, on which NOAA relies in both space and terrestrial activities, ties to the Air Force's DMSP, and future plans. Even in advance of the Administration's recent decision to merge the NOAA and Air Force systems, the NOAA request also led to a more detailed examination of the DMSP than might have been inferred from the original CES charter. The DMSP and NOAA's Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) spacecraft have from the outset provided mutual backup and complementary data, and have consequently been operationally intercoupled for

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EARTH OBSERVATIONS FROM SPACE: History, Promise, and Reality a considerable period. The DMSP has also provided unique data important to the civil research and applications communities (notably from its Special Sensor Microwave Imager, or SSM/I). The writing of this report has been a difficult and laborious task. The range of science, engineering, policy, and programmatic topics is very large and taxed the committee's abilities to their limits. If the CES has succeeded in its task, the report that follows will serve as a comprehensive foundation for the future reviews of the U.S. civil earth observations program. John H. McElroy, Chair Committee on Earth Studies

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