to transform a scientific measurement into an operational tool. A satellite program such as NPP could provide such opportunities.

  • It is noteworthy that NASA’s ESE Technology Development Plan does not provide for the transitioning of technology from scientific status to operational status. This fact is central to the question of technology insertion into NPOESS in support of climate or other scientific objectives. Even if a new technological innovation is proven to offer unique scientific value and is shown to be technically feasible, there are no firm plans to guide its transition onto NPOESS.


The IPO and NASA should strive to accommodate technological change in a timely manner, while ensuring that the modified system will sustain operational functionality. The committee’s recommendations with regard to technology insertion are as follows:

  • The IPO should identify a person or group to review the system requirements and the design to ensure that both the Integrated Operational Requirements Document (IORD; IPO, 1996) and the contractor approaches will support flexibility and change.

  • NASA should provide a list of science requirements (ostensibly from the Science Plan) and climate requirements that are candidates for implementation on NPOESS.

  • The IPO should plan for the insertion of new or enhanced measurement capabilities into NPOESS that would likely have to be funded from non-IPO sources.

  • NASA ESE should implement its Technology Development Plan with firm plans linked to missions and ensure that any necessary NPOESS enabling technologies are covered in the plan.

  • NASA and the IPO should devise an approach to support announcing and accepting additional experiments on NPOESS.

  • It is essential that the process of incorporating research requirements into NPOESS be started now and be allowed to influence the program development and risk reduction phase that is in progress, without disrupting the primary NPOESS mission. Opportunities for change after the launch are limited by the longer satellite life and longer time between launches.


Integrated Program Office (IPO), National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). 1996. Integrated Operational Requirements Document (First Version) (IORD-1) 1996. Issued by Office of Primary Responsibility: Joint Agency Requirements Group (JARG) Administrators, March 28. The updated IORD and other documents related to NPOESS are available online at <>

National Research Council (NRC). 1998. Overview, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.

National Research Council (NRC), Space Studies Board. 2000. Issues in the Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems for Climate Research: I. Science and Design. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement