The 2007 Earth science and applications from space decadal survey offered several important recommendations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).1 The first set consisted of recommendations related to the NPP, NPOESS, and GOES-R missions (pp. 5-6, table and footnotes omitted):2
Recommendation: NOAA should restore several key climate, environmental, and weather observation capabilities to its planned NPOESS and GOES-R missions; namely:
• Measurements of ocean vector winds and all-weather sea-surface temperatures descoped from the NPOESS C1 launch should be restored to provide continuity until the CMIS replacement is operational on NPOESS C2 and higher-quality active scatterometer measurements (from XOVWM, described in Table ES.1) can be undertaken later in the next decade.
• The limb sounding capability of the Ozone Monitoring and Profiling Suite (OMPS) on NPOESS should be restored.
The committee also recommends that NOAA:
• Ensure the continuity of measurements of Earth’s radiation budget (ERB) and total solar irradiance (TSI) through the period when the NPOESS spacecraft will be in orbit by:
—Incorporating on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft the existing “spare” CERES instrument, and, if possible, a TSI sensor, and;
—Incorporating these or similar instruments on the NPOESS spacecraft that will follow NPP, or ensuring that measurements of TSI and ERB are obtained by other means.
1National Research Council, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007.
2Note that acronyms not defined in the text are defined in Appendix G.
• Develop a strategy to restore the previously planned capability to make high temporal and vertical-resolution measurements of temperature and water vapor from geosynchronous orbit.
The high-temporal- and high-vertical-resolution measurements of temperature and water vapor from geosynchronous orbit were originally to be delivered by the Hyperspectral Environmental Sensor (HES) on the GOES-R spacecraft. Recognizing the technological challenges and accompanying potential for growth in acquisition costs for HES, the committee recommends consideration of the following approaches:
• Working with NASA, complete the GIFTS instrument, deliver it to orbit via a cost-effective launch and spacecraft opportunity, and evaluate its potential to be a prototype for the HES instrument, and/or
• Extend the HES study contracts focusing on cost-effective approaches to achieving essential sounding capabilities to be flown in the GOES-R time frame.
The second set of recommendations pertained to transitions from research to operations (p. 8, table omitted):
• NOAA should transition to operations three research observations. These are vector sea surface winds, GPS radio occultation temperature, water vapor, and electron density sounders; and total solar irradiance (restored to NPOESS). Approaches to these transitions are provided through the recommended XOVWM, GPSRO, and CLARREO missions listed in Table ES.1.
PROGRESS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECADAL SURVEY RECOMMENDATIONS AND OTHER NOAA SATELLITE PROGRAMS
NOAA satellite programs continue to be impacted by budget shortfalls and financial burdens associated with the NPOESS, now JPSS, program. In particular, the President’s request for JPSS for FY2011 was $1.07 billion, yet Congress appropriated less than $400 million, a shortfall of more than $700 million. As NOAA struggles to implement JPSS in time to avoid a potential gap in measurements from the currently operating instruments that provide data used to support numerical weather prediction, other NOAA satellite programs and the 2007 decadal survey’s recommended missions are being delayed or canceled. Details on the NOAA satellite program follow.
UPDATE ON RESTORATION OF NPOESS CLIMATE SENSORS
In June 2006, as a consequence of the Nunn-McCurdy review by the DOD (required by the Congress because of a projected overrun greater than 25 percent), a restructured NPOESS program was announced that did not include a number of climate sensors.3 In early 2010, the joint DOD/NOAA/NASA NPOESS program was canceled in favor of returning to the pre-NPOESS plan of having separate DOD and NOAA polar orbiting weather satellite programs, namely NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and DOD’s Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). Described briefly below is the status, as of late January 2012, of the climate sensors that were “demanifested” from NPOESS:
• Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS). APS was planned to fly on NASA’s Glory mission in 2011; however, the Taurus XL launch vehicle being used to launch Glory failed to provide the proper separation of the launch vehicle fairing, resulting in the loss of the mission.
3National Research Council, Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008.
• Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS). A Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) to measure total solar irradiance was manifested on Glory, and thus was lost as well. In the meantime NASA’s SORCE mission continues to provide TIM data (and spectrally resolved irradiance via the SSI instrument). Launched in January 2003 and currently in its fourth year of extended-phase operations, the spacecraft is powered by batteries that are believed to be the life-limiting factor for the mission.4 NASA thinks that a work-around for a recent spacecraft battery problem could allow SORCE to continue to operate through 2014;5 however, a gap in the TIM record, which extends from 1978, is still likely, absent launch of a free-flyer mission or manifesting of a TIM on another spacecraft that could launch in this time frame. NOAA is examining options for accelerating the flight of TSIS, currently in development at LASP, by flying it as part of the JPSS free-flyer program.6 Unfortunately, because of FY2011 budget limitations, there are currently no identified funds for the flight of TSIS. A broad-band radiometer was also recommended for the decadal survey’s CLARREO mission, but with cost estimates having grown by a factor of 3, NASA has deferred the mission indefinitely.
• OMPS (Ozone Monitoring and Profiling Suite)-Limb. NPP (launched October 28, 2011) is flying both the OMPS Nadir and the OMPS Limb Suite. Unfortunately, JPSS-1 will carry only the OMPS Nadir instrument. Resumption of the flight of the OMPS Limb sensor is planned for JPSS-2, but not until 2019 or later.
• Earth Radiation Budget Sensor (ERBS). CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) sensor FM 5 is also on NPP. CERES FM 6 is planned for flight on JPSS-1 in 2017. ERBS is planned as a CERES follow-on to be flown as part of the JPSS free-flyer program. Unfortunately, as for TSIS, in the FY2011 and FY2012 budgets there are no funds identified for the flight of ERBS.
• Altimeter (ALT). The ocean altimeter instrument, ALT, which had been planned for inclusion on NPOESS (now JPSS), was canceled (“demanifested) in 2006 as a result of the program review and revisions that occurred as part of NPOESS’s “Nunn-McCurdy” certification.7 However, in a bit of a success story, at least through Jason-2, the research-oriented NASA/CNES TOPEX/Poseidon mission has gradually evolved into an international operational program. TOPEX/Poseidon was follow by Jason, which in turn has been followed by the currently operating Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM) on the Jason-2 satellite. Plans are in place by NOAA/EUMETSAT/NASA/CNES to fly Jason-3; however, the possibility of substantial delays is threatening this mission (see Jason-3, below).
• NPOESS to JPSS on the civil side. As already noted, the DOD/NOAA/NASA NPOESS program was canceled in early 2010. What emerged in its place on the civil (NOAA) side was JPSS, a NOAA polar orbiting weather satellite program to be implemented by NASA. NOAA had planned for JPSS-1 to fly in 2014, to be followed by JPSS-2 in 2018; NOAA also assumed that a free-flyer element to JPSS would allow for the flight of key displaced NPOESS climate sensors as discussed above. However, as a result of a continuing resolution that limited FY2011 budgets to those in FY2010, a planned $1.06 billion in FY2011 for JPSS was appropriated at only $382 million. This large funding shortfall appears likely to delay the planned launch of JPSS-1 to at least 2017.
Given the program’s limited funding, the first priority has been to keep NPP on track. Originally planned as a mission to demonstrate all the new NPOESS instrument technologies, companion algorithms, and data-processing approaches, NPP is now being pressed into service as a full-fledged operational element of the new JPSS program to help cope with the extensive delays that had occurred in the NPOESS program
4See “SORCE Extended Mission Proposal Submitted,” in Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment Monthly Newsletter, February-March 2011, available at http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/news_letter.htm.
6As this report went to press, NOAA and the Air Force were examining the possibility of flying a backup TIM from the SORCE program as a hosted payload.
7Nunn-McCurdy certification is discussed in National Research Council, Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOESR Spacecraft, 2008. For a specific discussion on ALT, see pp. 35-38.
as well as the more recent delays to the JPSS program. However, a recent NASA inspector general report has called into question the integrity of some of the NPP instruments, including VIIRS and CrIS, and has projected that, owing to their development in an undisciplined environment, i.e., under the guidance of the NPOESS Integrated Program Office (IPO), these instruments might last only 3 years, rather than the planned 7 years, further exacerbating the overall NPOESS to JPSS situation.
• Ocean Vector Winds (XOVWM in the decadal survey). Budget problems have affected NOAA’s capability to implement the 2007 survey’s recommendation to develop and launch a next-generation dualfrequency scatterometer to measure ocean vector winds (XOVWM). XOVWM would have continued and enhanced the measurement capabilities of NASA’s QuikSCAT spacecraft, which operated nominally from 1999 to 2009.8 Although developed as a NASA research mission, QuikSCAT supplied data that proved of great utility and were routinely assimilated into numerical weather forecast models.
Realizing that the XOVWM instrument was not affordable in the near term, NOAA initially planned to develop a less-capable version of the XOVWM (the DFS, or dual-frequency scatterometer) for accommodation on the Japanese GCOM-W2 spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in 2016. However, in late 2010, NOAA recognized that future budgets would not support this effort and on January 13, 2011, the agency sent a letter to NASA stating that pursuit of the NOAA DFS on GCOM-W2 would be unaffordable in the foreseeable future. Further, NOAA has proposed that responsibility for the provision of operational scatterometry data be shifted to NASA. In the meantime, NOAA is working with NASA and the Indian space agency, ISRO, to acquire timely access to ocean surface vector wind data from the ISRO Oceansat-2 satellite.
• GOES-R/HES. In this case, NOAA conducted an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the capabilities planned for the Hyperspectral Environmental Suite (HES). The AoA recommended flying a sounder-only capability in the GOES-R time frame (but not on GOES-R). Limited budget and other higher-priority NWS priorities have made this option not feasible at this time. It is particularly ironic, given the cost of GOES-R missions, that none of them is planned to have a sounder capability, even though their predecessor missions, i.e., GOES-I through GOES-P (8 missions), all had a sounding capability.
• Jason-3. Precise measurements of sea-surface topography, which have proved to be among the most useful measurements for ocean and climate science, began in1992 with the launch of the NASA/CNES (France) TOPEX/Poseidon spacecraft. TOPEX/Poseidon was followed by the Jason-1 mission, launched in 2001, and Jason-2/OSTM, which was launched in 2008.9
Extension of this critical data record was planned via the launch of Jason-3 in 2014. Jason-3 enjoyed the strong support of both the United States and its European partner, EUMETSAT. However, the FY2011 budget reduced funding on the NOAA side, and the proposed NOAA FY2012 Jason-3 budget is threatened as well, with the result that discussions are underway between EUMETSAT and NOAA that could result in a 1- to 2-year delay for Jason-3. Additionally, the two recent Taurus XL failures (Orbiting Carbon Observatory and Glory) may delay the decision on a launch vehicle for Jason-3, further delaying the program, increasing costs, and threatening the continuity of this critically important long-term climate data record.
• COSMIC-2 (GPSRO in the decadal survey). Observations from the six-satellite constellation COSMIC launch in 2006 and the GPS radio occultation (RO) sensor on METOP-A have demonstrated the value of RO observations for weather prediction, space weather, and climate, providing bias-free profiles of refractivity (temperature and water vapor) in the troposphere, temperature in the stratosphere, and elec-
8The QuikSCAT mission continues to operate; however, the instrument’s antenna ceased spinning. The mission now plays a key role in calibrating the ISRO scatterometer and was strongly endorsed for continuation by the 2011 NASA Earth Science Senior Review process, with the applications subpanel ranking the mission as “high utility” despite the loss of antenna rotation. See http://nasascience.nasa.gov/earth-science/missions/operating/.
9While the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 missions were collaborations between NASA and the French space agency CNES, OSTM is a four-partner mission with NASA, CNES, EUMETSAT, and NOAA. See http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/files/ostm/Spacecraft-OSTM_Fact_Sheet_Final.pdf.
tron density in the ionosphere.10 NOAA has been working with the U.S. Air Force and Taiwan to develop a follow-on mission to COSMIC (which is nearing the end of its lifetime in 2012) called COSMIC-2 (C-2). C-2 would consist of a 12-satellite constellation to be launched beginning in 2015. The Air Force is making excellent progress on developing space-weather sensors and on engineering studies. Taiwan has committed to partner with NOAA on C-2 and has its funding appropriated, but NOAA has yet to commit even very modest funds for an official start. The President’s budget for FY2011 included a $3.7 million NOAA start, but after months of a continuing resolution Congress finally passed a budget without these funds. The President’s FY2012 budget contained $11.3 million for COSMIC-2, but the FY2012 appropriation did not contain any funds for a C-2 start. The estimated total cost for C-2 is $410 million, with Taiwan, NOAA, and the U.S. Air Force sharing the costs roughly equally. In early 2012, after this report was completed, the Air Force announced that it would fund at least six of the payloads for COSMIC-2 and provide a launch.
• DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory). Although the Deep Space Climate Observatory was not a priority in the Earth science and applications from space decadal survey,11 the NOAA FY2011 budget request had $9.5 million for DSCOVR’s refurbishment, and the FY2012 request was $47.3 million. DSCOVR will be launched into an orbit around the L1 libration point, a stable gravity-neutral point approximately 1 million miles from Earth. From that location, sensors on DSCOVR would have a constant view of the day side of Earth. More commonly used for solar science investigations, the L1 libration point is an ideal vantage from which a spacecraft can monitor space weather and warn of solar storms before they hit Earth. NOAA did not receive funding for DSCOVR in FY2011; however, the FY2012 enacted budget provided $29.8 million. The U.S. Air Force will pay for the launch of DSCOVR, which is expected in 2014.12
• CLARREO. A broad-band radiometer was also recommended in the 2007 decadal survey for the CLARREO mission, but the mission was put on hold in the FY2011 budget cycle.
CLIMATE DATA RECORDS
As noted in Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft,13 there are structural problems associated with the provision of climate-quality measurements from systems designed to meet national objectives more closely associated with the needs of the operational weather forecast community. At the time of the 2007 decadal survey, NPOESS lacked a transparent program for monitoring sensor calibration and performance and for verifying the products of analysis algorithms. Moreover, it lacked the direct involvement of scientists who have played a fundamental role in developing climate-quality records from spaceborne observations. Since then, NOAA has made a major commitment to scientific-data stewardship. NOAA has developed a strategy to provide for the essential characterization, calibration, stability, continuity, and data systems required to support climate applications for climate variables such as sea-surface temperature. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center has made development of climate data records a high priority. This approach is consistent with and responsive to many NRC reports that indicate that the generation of climate data records requires considerable scientific insight, including the blending of multiple sources of data; error analysis; and access to raw data.
11The 2007 decadal survey did note that DSCOVR instruments would provide an operational solar wind monitor at L1, a high priority for the solar and space physics community. See National Research Council, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.
12The President’s requested budget for FY2013 was released to the public on February 13, 2012, after the present report was completed. Funding for DSCOVR of $22,883,000 is requested in the NOAA NESDIS budget. Assuming that the program is adequately funded, and with Air Force support for the launch vehicle, DSCOVR would be ready for launch in 2014.
13National Research Council, Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft, 2008.