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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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THE ROLE OF SMALL SATELLITES IN NASA AND NOAA EARTH OBSERVATION PROGRAMS

Committee on Earth Studies

Space Studies Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

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.

Support for this project was provided by Contract NASW 96013 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and was funded in part by a contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor.

International Standard Book Number 0-309-06982-3

Copies of this report are available free of charge from:

Space Studies Board

National Research Council

2101 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20418

Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

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 M. 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. William A. Wulf 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 M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

COMMITTEE ON EARTH STUDIES

MARK R. ABBOTT,

Oregon State University,

Chair

OTIS B. BROWN,**

University of Miami

JOHN R. CHRISTY,

University of Alabama, Huntsville

CATHERINE GAUTIER,

University of California, Santa Barbara

DANIEL J. JACOB,**

Harvard University

CHRIS J. JOHANNSEN,*

Purdue University

CHRISTOPHER O. JUSTICE,

University of Virginia

VICTOR V. KLEMAS,*

University of Delaware

BRUCE D. MARCUS,**

TRW

M. PATRICK MCCORMICK,**

Hampton University

ARAM M. MIKA,*

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space

RALPH F. MILLIFF,

National Center for Atmospheric Research

RICHARD K. MOORE,*

University of Kansas

SCOTT PACE,

Rand

DALLAS L. PECK,

U.S. Geological Survey (retired)

MICHAEL J. PRATHER,

University of California, Irvine

R. KEITH RANEY,

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

DAVID T. SANDWELL,

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

LAWRENCE C. SCHOLZ,

West Orange, New Jersey

CARL F. SCHUELER,

Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing

WALTER S. SCOTT,*

EarthWatch

GRAEME L. STEPHENS,

Colorado State University

KATHRYN D. SULLIVAN,*

Columbus Ohio's Center of Science and Industry

FAWWAZ T. ULABY,

University of Michigan

SUSAN L. USTIN,

University of California, Davis

FRANK J. WENTZ,

Remote Sensing Systems

THOMAS T. WILHEIT, JR.,*

Texas A&M University

EDWARD F. ZALEWSKI,

University of Arizona

ARTHUR A. CHARO, Senior Program Officer

INA B. ALTERMAN, Senior Program Officer

CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Senior Project Assistant (through March 1999)

THERESA M. FISHER, Senior Project Assistant (from April 1999)

*  

 Term ended in 1998.

**  

Term ended in 1999.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

SPACE STUDIES BOARD

CLAUDE R. CANIZARES,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Chair

MARK R. ABBOTT,

Oregon State University

FRAN BAGENAL,

university of Colorado

DANIEL N. BAKER,

University of Colorado

ROBERT E. CLELAND,

University of Washington

GERARD W. ELVERUM, JR.,

TRW Space and Technology Group*

MARILYN L. FOGEL,

Carnegie Institution of Washington

BILL GREEN, Former Member,

U.S. House of Representatives

JOHN H. HOPPS, JR.,

Morehouse College

CHRIS J. JOHANNSEN,

Purdue University

ANDREW H. KNOLL,

Harvard University*

RICHARD G. KRON,

University of Chicago

JONATHAN I. LUNINE,

University of Arizona

ROBERTA BALSTAD MILLER,

CIESIN-Columbia University

GARY J. OLSEN,

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

MARY JANE OSBORN,

University of Connecticut Health Center

GEORGE A. PAULIKAS,

The Aerospace Corporation

JOYCE E. PENNER,

University of Michigan

THOMAS A. PRINCE,

California Institute of Technology

PEDRO L. RUSTAN, JR.,

Ellipso, Inc.

GEORGE L. SISCOE,

Boston University

EUGENE B. SKOLNIKOFF,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MITCHELL SOGIN,

Marine Biological Laboratory

NORMAN E. THAGARD,

Florida State University

ALAN M. TITLE,

Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center

RAYMOND VISKANTA,

Purdue University

PETER VOORHEES,

Northwestern University

JOHN A. WOOD,

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director

*  

 Former member.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS

PETER M. BANKS,

Veridian ERIM International, Inc.,

Co-chair

W. CARL LINEBERGER,

University of Colorado,

Co-chair

WILLIAM F. BALLHAUS, JR.,

Lockheed Martin Corp.

SHIRLEY CHIANG,

University of California at Davis

MARSHALL H. COHEN,

California Institute of Technology

RONALD G. DOUGLAS,

Texas A&M University

SAMUEL H. FULLER,

Analog Devices, Inc.

JERRY P. GOLLUB,

Haverford College

MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD,

University of California at Santa Barbara

MARTHA P. HAYNES,

Cornell University

WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, JR.,

Carnegie Institution

CAROL M. JANTZEN,

Westinghouse Savannah River Company

PAUL G. KAMINSKI,

Technovation, Inc.

KENNETH H. KELLER,

University of Minnesota

JOHN R. KREICK,

Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company (ret.)

MARSHA I. LESTER,

University of Pennsylvania

DUSA M. MCDUFF,

State University of New York at Stony Brook

JANET L. NORWOOD,

Former U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics

M. ELISABETH PATÉ-CORNELL,

Stanford University

NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS,

Brookhaven National Laboratory

ROBERT J. SPINRAD,

Xerox PARC (ret.)

NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director (through July 1999)

MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

Foreword

Remote observations of Earth from space serve an extraordinarily broad range of purposes, resulting in extraordinary demands on those at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and elsewhere who must decide how to execute them. In research, Earth observations promise large volumes of data to a variety of disciplines with differing needs for measurement type, simultaneity, continuity, and long-term instrument stability. Operational needs, such as weather forecasting, add a distinct set of requirements for continual and highly reliable monitoring of global conditions.

The present study confronts these diverse requirements and assesses how they might be met by small satellites. In the past, the preferred architecture for most NASA and NOAA missions was a single large spacecraft platform containing a sophisticated suite of instruments. But the recognition in other areas of space research that cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and robustness may be enhanced by using small spacecraft has raised questions about this philosophy of Earth observation. For example, NASA has already abandoned its original plan for a follow-on series of major platforms in its Earth Observing System.

This study finds that small spacecraft can play an important role in Earth observation programs, providing to this field some of the expected benefits that are normally associated with such programs, such as rapid development and lower individual mission cost. It also identifies some of the programmatic and technical challenges associated with a mission composed of small spacecraft, as well as reasons why more traditional, larger platforms might still be preferred. The reasonable conclusion is that a systems-level examination is required to determine the optimum architecture for a given scientific and/or operational objective. The implied new challenge is for NASA and NOAA to find intra- and interagency planning mechanisms that can achieve the most appropriate and cost-effective balance among their various requirements.

Claude R. Canizares, Chair

Space Studies Board

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's (NRC's) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

David Atlas, Atlas Concepts;

Peter Burr, consultant;

Greg H. Canavan, Los Alamos National Laboratory;

Leonard A. Fisk, University of Michigan;

Margaret G. Kivelson, University of California at Los Angeles;

Marlon R. Lewis, Dahlousie University, Canada; and

Eberhardt Recktin, consultant.

Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9819.
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Remote observations of Earth from space serve an extraordinarily broad range of purposes, resulting in extraordinary demands on those at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and elsewhere who must decide how to execute them. In research, Earth observations promise large volumes of data to a variety of disciplines with differing needs for measurement type, simultaneity, continuity, and long-term instrument stability. Operational needs, such as weather forecasting, add a distinct set of requirements for continual and highly reliable monitoring of global conditions.

The Role of Small Satelites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Porgrams confronts these diverse requirements and assesses how they might be met by small satellites. In the past, the preferred architecture for most NASA and NOAA missions was a single large spacecraft platform containing a sophisticated suite of instruments. But the recognition in other areas of space research that cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and robustness may be enhanced by using small spacecraft has raised questions about this philosophy of Earth observation. For example, NASA has already abandoned its original plan for a follow-on series of major platforms in its Earth Observing System.

This study finds that small spacecraft can play an important role in Earth observation programs, providing to this field some of the expected benefits that are normally associated with such programs, such as rapid development and lower individual mission cost. It also identifies some of the programmatic and technical challenges associated with a mission composed of small spacecraft, as well as reasons why more traditional, larger platforms might still be preferred. The reasonable conclusion is that a systems-level examination is required to determine the optimum architecture for a given scientific and/or operational objective. The implied new challenge is for NASA and NOAA to find intra- and interagency planning mechanisms that can achieve the most appropriate and cost-effective balance among their various requirements.

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