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Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 However, although the Plan mentions that ESE research and data products are “expected to contribute” to society in several ways, it does not state what actions NASA will take to foster societal benefits. A participatory process will have to be instituted to identify likely users of the information, forms in which the information should be provided, and purposes for which the information is likely to be used. Feedback from the public should be a key part of such a participatory process. The Plan itself does not describe how the science priority criteria were used to select the detailed science questions or how they would actually be applied to potential missions. How the criteria would be applied in Announcements of Opportunity (AO) for exploratory missions was indicated in supplemental material prepared by NASA for the committee (see Appendix C). The criteria of science return, benefit to society, mandated program, and appropriateness for NASA will be used to establish the science priority questions in an AO prior to its issuance. In their responses, the potential principal investigators will be required to address the criteria of partnership opportunity and technology readiness. Programmatic balance and cost/budget issues are to be addressed by NASA as a part of its decision to issue the AO. The factors considered in evaluation of proposals will include science value, technical approach, commercial development opportunities, education, and public outreach. The latter two criteria are relevant to the benefit-to-society criterion. The committee found this supplemental material to be an effective description of how the science priority criteria will be used to select specific exploratory missions. Similar descriptions should be developed for the systematic measurement missions and the technology demonstration missions. Recommendation 3. The revised Plan should include an explicit, comprehensive description of the process for applying the science priority criteria to both the detailed science questions and the mission concepts. VII. CREATING A LIVING STRATEGIC PLAN To keep pace with changing research demands, rapidly changing technologies, the growth in the commercial remote sensing industry, and an evolving user community, NASA will have to rethink its strategy for Earth science research and observations every several years, while maintaining sufficient programmatic continuity to manage space missions. Thus, a strategic plan should be viewed as a living document, to be modified as needed. The ideal plan will include both a longer-term strategy and guidelines for how the strategy will be implemented in the short term. As noted above, the Plan has both strategic and implementation elements. Because these elements are interrelated, the committee agrees with this approach. However, much of the Plan is devoted to the science issues and questions (which are discussed in even greater detail in the full ESE Science Implementation Plan), and less attention is paid to other strategic issues. For example, there is little discussion of how data assimilation and modeling serve as integrative tools for bringing together multiple observations and research themes for a better understanding of the Earth system. In addition, as noted in several NRC reports, in situ (or calibration, validation, verification) data of different levels of precision, accuracy, and duration are a
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Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 necessary element of a coherent space-based program.27,28 Although the Plan mentions such data in the “implementation details” in the tables and text, it does not consistently state what in situ data are associated with each observational parameter. Another omission, in view of the critical need for quality-assured data products that can be intercompared easily over space and time, is an explicit strategy for supporting appropriate calibration studies of all ESE sensors. The Plan could be strengthened considerably by shortening the discussion of science themes and questions, adding targets and milestones, and discussing the strategy issues that were recommended in previous NRC reports.29 These strategy issues include long-term observations; new technologies; instrument synergy; verification, validation, and calibration; data analysis, management, and assimilation; modeling; and partnerships. The result would be a shorter but broader strategic plan. The NASA document “Comparison of the 2000-2010 Research Strategy with Relevant Recommendations of the National Academy of Science/National Research Council” (Appendix B) contains many of the elements of an effective strategic summary and provides a useful model for future versions of the Plan, as does Exploring Our Home Planet: The Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan.30 The modified Plan should be released to the public as soon as possible. Recommendation 4. NASA should develop a shorter but more inclusive stand-alone strategic plan that describes ESE's process for setting scientific and technical priorities and for ensuring that the important Earth science questions are answered. NASA should view the ESE Research Strategy as a living document, to be updated internally every year and released for public comment and review every 3 to 5 years. As noted above, the quantities (parameters, implementation details, technical readiness, operational potential, and partnership potential) needed to address each of the primary science issues are summarized in tables in the Plan. However, the tables are not discussed in the text and are tied only weakly to the science issues and questions. The tables are also incomplete. For example, ground-based research, which is required to validate and interpret remote sensing images, is not mentioned in the Plan's Table 4.4. Similarly, a missing implementation detail under tropospheric ozone and precursors (Table 4.3) is the simultaneous measurement of at least six key species that control ozone production. Much of this information is described in the draft ESE Science Implementation Plan, but it should be presented in a more consistent, complete, and effective manner in the research strategy. Recommendation 5. The revised Plan should include matrices that map the detailed science questions to measurement parameters, implementation procedures, models, calibration/validation/verification requirements, and potential partners. 27 NRC, 1999, “On NASA's Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions.” Letter report to Ghassem Asrar, NASA's Associate Administrator for Earth Science, 45 pp. 28 NRC, 1998, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 595 pp. 29 NRC, 1999, “On NASA's Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions.” Letter report to Ghassem Asrar, NASA's Associate Administrator for Earth Science, 45 pp. 30 NASA, 2000, Exploring Our Home Planet: The Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan. May 25, 2000, draft.
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Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 Strategy for Long-Term Observations As noted above, addressing the detailed science questions outlined in the Plan will inevitably involve NASA in long-term observations and monitoring. The Plan acknowledges the necessity of long-term observations and notes that the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite programs will provide the framework for the transition from short-term observations to monitoring.31 NPOESS will report routine data and also provide information that has been analyzed and interpreted for use in understanding global change, and it is therefore a good model for dealing with the transition to operations. The current generation of polar-orbiting spacecraft (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) is expected to provide operational observations beyond 2010. The EOS Terra and Aqua missions will end before 2010. A single spacecraft (the NPOESS Preparatory Project [NPP]) to bridge the EOS and NPOESS eras is scheduled to provide at least 1 year' s worth of overlapping observations, which will be required for long-term continuity. This mission sequencing introduces considerable risk because operational and research schedules may not allow for sufficient overlapping observations. Moreover, NPOESS alone will not be sufficient for supplying all the long-term observations discussed in the Plan. For example, measurements of key variables (e.g., sea level topography needed to address questions V2, R5, and C3; solar radiance, needed for question F1; and ocean surface winds, needed for questions V2, R3, C1, and P1) will not be continued with EOS-class observations (including Jason-1, ACRIMSAT, and QuikScat) in the NPOESS context. 32 Some of these issues are addressed in the NASA document Exploring Our Home Planet: The Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan, which includes tables mapping the science questions against missions (including NPP) through 2010, and a more general observational strategy through 2040. However, a strategy for long-term observations, including plans for coupling satellite measurements with in situ and field programs, analysis, and modeling, should extend well into the NPOESS era. Recommendation 6. The revised Plan should describe how NASA will ensure the continuity of key variables from the EOS era through the NPOESS era. The Plan should describe NASA's role in the implementation of NPOESS and other bridging observing systems, including (1) maintaining and supporting new research-quality calibrated data, (2) producing advanced biogeophysical algorithms, and (3) supporting the relevant research. Data and Information Systems Data management is a key part of every science project, and NASA has invested considerable effort and resources in developing the Earth Observing System Data and Information System 31 The suitability of using operational satellites as platforms for climate research is discussed in NRC, 2000, From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., in press. 32 Not all of the NPOESS instruments have been selected. For a discussion of these and other NPOESS issues, see NRC, 2000, Issues in the Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems for Climate Research: II. Implementation. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., in press.
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Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 (EOSDIS) for managing data from the EOS missions. NASA officials noted that the agency was working to find a viable alternative to EOSDIS for managing data from future missions.33 The new strategy is commonly known as New Data and Information Systems and Services (New DISS). The ESE has also created a prototype federation to test concepts for less centrally controlled data and information systems and the wider involvement of the scientific community in providing data sets and services to a broad range of users. However, none of these systems— EOSDIS, New DISS, or the Federation—are mentioned in the Plan. Similarly, there is no discussion of data and information in the full ESE Science Implementation Plan or the Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan. The federation concept was proposed and endorsed in several NRC reports, 34,35,36,37 and the committee agrees that NASA should give continued consideration to alternatives to centrally controlled data and information systems. Moreover, until NASA's post-EOSDIS data and information strategy is formulated, its goals for data management and its process for developing a data management strategy should be included in the Plan. Recommendation 7. The revised Plan should describe how NASA will develop strategies for delivering data and information to the broader scientific community and other users of scientific data, particularly in the post-EOSDIS era. Partnerships For NASA to answer effectively the scientific questions laid out in the Plan, ongoing partnerships with other agencies and international organizations will be essential. For example, long-term continuity of observations will require participation from NOAA, Japanese and European space agencies, and other countries operating environmental satellites. Modeling and data assimilation will require partnerships with research laboratories in the United States and around the world. Finally, ESE's current observing system and the global observing system of the future will involve multiple sensors on multiple platforms—underwater, surface, air, and satellite. This hybrid system will be operated by multiple agencies and the private sector. Partnerships will be essential for the effective analysis and assimilation of the diverse and distributed data sets obtained. The importance of partnerships has been raised in a number of NRC and USGCRP reports.38,39,40 As stated in one NRC report, “To ensure a balanced and coherent strategy that will elucidate the 33 Briefing to the committee by Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Associate Administrator for Earth Science, on May 17, 2000. 34 NRC, 1995, A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and NASA's Mission to Planet Earth. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 96 pp. 35 NRC, 1998, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 595 pp. 36 NRC, 1998, Toward an Earth Science Enterprise Federation: Results from a Workshop. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 51 pp. 37 NRC, 1998, Review of NASA's Distributed Active Archive Centers. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 233 pp. 38 NRC, 1999, “On NASA's Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions.” Letter report to Ghassem Asrar, NASA's Associate Administrator for Earth Science, 45 pp. 39 NRC, 1998, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 595 pp.
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Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 key mechanisms thought to underlie global change phenomena, the task group recommends that NASA develop the science plan with the participation of USGCRP agencies and the academic scientific community and in consultation with international partners” (p. 4).41 There was no evidence in the Plan that this procedure was followed. The committee agrees with the intentions of these reports and reiterates their recommendations: Recommendation 8. The revised Plan should explicitly discuss the framework for the development of partnerships (national, international, and commercial) that are necessary for the ESE's scientific objectives to be realized. Recommendation 9. In the process of developing its Plan, NASA should consult with other agencies (national and foreign) and the research community to define specific roles and responsibilities, define platforms (underwater, surface, air, and space), and obtain appropriate and necessary commitments. Organizational Issues The following organizational issues and omissions in the text of the Plan can be addressed easily and should lead to a more comprehensive research strategy. The mission of the Earth Science Enterprise is to “develop a scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced changes to enable improved prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards for present and future generations. ”42 The committee believes that the ESE mission statement is too general and could be applied to any of the USGCRP agencies. The ESE mission statement could be strengthened by highlighting NASA's strength in furthering science through space-borne missions. Although the science issues and questions all concern interactions among several disciplines, the full ESE Science Implementation Plan (of which the ESE Research Strategy is the overview) is structured along traditional disciplinary lines. This organization is reflected in NASA's internal structure (see Table 1) and constitutes a potential barrier to addressing interdisciplinary science questions. NASA also divides research from applications and has separate strategies for the two. Removing such artificial divisions or formalizing coordination on cross-cutting research would help foster an Earth system science approach. The strategy documents relevant to the Earth Science Enterprise (i.e., ESE Strategic Plan, ESE Science Implementation Plan, ESE Research Strategy) are not completely consistent with one another. Yet, the ESE Research Strategy is meant to serve as an overview for the ESE Science Implementation Plan, and to reflect the overall ESE strategy. Internal consistency among these documents is essential for clearly communicating the goals and objectives of the program. 40 Subcommittee on Global Change Research, 1999, Our Changing Planet: The FY2000 U.S. Global Change Research Program Implementation Plan and Budget Overview. Washington, D.C., 100 pp. 41 NRC, 1999, “On NASA's Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions.” Washington, D.C., 45 pp. 42 NASA, 2000, Exploring Our Home Planet: The Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan. May 25, 2000, draft, 43 pp.
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