NASA Earth Observation Programs and Small Satellites
NASA’s strategic goal in Earth science is motivated by the fundamental question: “How is the Earth changing and what are the consequences for life on Earth?” NASA’s mission in Earth science as mandated by the U.S. Space Act is to “ ldots conduct aeronautical and space activities so as to contribute materially to ldots the expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space”. Therefore, NASA’s role is unique and highly complements those of other U.S. Federal agencies by continually advancing Earth system science from space, creating new remote sensing capabilities, and enhancing the operational capabilities of other agencies and collaborating with them to advance Earth science goals. NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD) currently has a system of spacecraft collecting observations of the Earth system and in the months and years ahead will deploy new satellites and constellations with advanced measurement capabilities. Small satellites (~500 kg or less) have been crucial contributors to achieving NASA’s Earth science measurements and will continue to be so in the future. The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) is just now completing its first decadal survey for Earth science and applications from space. This survey will be used to set priorities for future missions to 2017 and beyond. Current status of ESD flight programs, preparations for the NRC decadal survey, and the role of small satellites will be discussed.
KeywordsTotal Solar Irradiance Small Satellite Future Mission Earth Science Division Flight Program
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