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Introduction: The Changing Environment

This is an opportune time for a discussion of the scientific use of new remote sensing data resources and the emergence of new types of partnerships among data producers and scientists seeking to obtain access to these data. A large number of civil U.S. and international remote sensing satellites are in orbit, including systems owned and operated by the governments of the United States, Europe,1 Japan, France, India, and China/Brazil;2 systems jointly owned or operated by government and commercial entities, such as Canada’s Radarsat and France’s System pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT); and two commercially owned and operated systems, Space Imaging, Inc.’s IKONOS and DigitalGlobe Inc.’s QuickBird (see Appendix A). In addition, over the next 5 years more than a dozen new spacecraft are planned for launch and operation by both U.S. and non-U.S. operators, including some systems that will be wholly commercial.3 These systems represent an expanding range of capability in spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution and a growing role for the private sector in system ownership and operation. The current and anticipated diversity in

1  

The European Space Agency (ESA) comprises 14 member states; Canada also participates in certain ESA programs. ESA operates Earth remote sensing satellites that collect data for use in Earth science research and applications.

2  

China and Brazil launched the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) in October 1999. CBERS-2 and CBERS-3 are in development.

3  

William E. Stoney, “Summary of Land Imaging Satellites (with Better Than 30 Meters Resolution) Planned to Be Operational by 2006,” McLean, Va., Mitretek Systems, June 6, 2001. Available online at <http://www.asprs.org/asprs/news>. Accessed on September 25, 2001.



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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research 1 Introduction: The Changing Environment This is an opportune time for a discussion of the scientific use of new remote sensing data resources and the emergence of new types of partnerships among data producers and scientists seeking to obtain access to these data. A large number of civil U.S. and international remote sensing satellites are in orbit, including systems owned and operated by the governments of the United States, Europe,1 Japan, France, India, and China/Brazil;2 systems jointly owned or operated by government and commercial entities, such as Canada’s Radarsat and France’s System pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT); and two commercially owned and operated systems, Space Imaging, Inc.’s IKONOS and DigitalGlobe Inc.’s QuickBird (see Appendix A). In addition, over the next 5 years more than a dozen new spacecraft are planned for launch and operation by both U.S. and non-U.S. operators, including some systems that will be wholly commercial.3 These systems represent an expanding range of capability in spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution and a growing role for the private sector in system ownership and operation. The current and anticipated diversity in 1   The European Space Agency (ESA) comprises 14 member states; Canada also participates in certain ESA programs. ESA operates Earth remote sensing satellites that collect data for use in Earth science research and applications. 2   China and Brazil launched the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) in October 1999. CBERS-2 and CBERS-3 are in development. 3   William E. Stoney, “Summary of Land Imaging Satellites (with Better Than 30 Meters Resolution) Planned to Be Operational by 2006,” McLean, Va., Mitretek Systems, June 6, 2001. Available online at <http://www.asprs.org/asprs/news>. Accessed on September 25, 2001.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research operational remote sensing systems opens up new types and sources of data for scientific research. The legal foundation in the United States for a commercial presence in satellite remote sensing was laid out in presidential directives and in the Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act of 1984. (See Table 1.1, “U.S. Satellite Remote Sensing Commercialization and Policy Time Line.”) This legislation, which was consonant with presidential directives from two previous administrations, established a process for commercializing land remote sensing satellites. The policy outlined, among other things, the terms and conditions for competing and for awarding a contract with a private entity to market unenhanced Landsat data for a period of 6 years.4 More recent legislation, including the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 and the Commercial Space Act of 1998, was intended to improve the legal and competitive environment for remote sensing in the private sector. The 1992 act specifically stated that one objective for Landsat 7’s data policy was to stimulate the development of a private market for enhanced data and value-added services, and it reiterated the terms for licensing private sector remote sensing satellite systems introduced in the 1984 legislation.5 The Commercial Space Act of 1998 encouraged the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to purchase, as appropriate, space-based remote sensing data from commercial providers for Earth science research.6 These legislative milestones, initiated by the U.S. Congress and supported by several administrations, have also been encouraged by others in the space community,7 and the health and commercial viability of the private sector remote sensing industry will obviously be a factor in the future of public-private partnerships. Congressional legislation and executive policy, as detailed in Table 1.1, have long encouraged the development of public and private sector relationships and interactions as a means of producing remote sensing data for scientific research. The most recent example is NASA’s Science Data Buy (SDB),8 an experimental program that began with both administration and congressional support in 1997. Earlier examples include the sale of Landsat data by the Earth Observation Satellite Company (EOSAT) in the 1980s and 1990s; the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) program, an ongoing collaboration between NASA and OrbImage, Inc., that began in the 1990s; the Canadian government and private sector partnership with Radarsat; and the French government and private sector 4   Public Law 98-365, Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act of 1984. 5   Public Law 102-555, Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992, Section 2. 6   Public Law 105-303, Commercial Space Act of 1998, Section 105. 7   Richard E. Rowberg, “Commercial Remote Sensing by Satellite: Status and Issues,” Washington, D.C., Congressional Research Service, December 20, 2001, p. 1. 8   The NASA Science Data Buy is also known as the NASA Science Data Purchase. In this report the steering committee refers to the program as the Science Data Buy.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research TABLE 1.1 U.S. Satellite Remote Sensing Commercialization and Policy Time Line Year Document Significance March 1978 Presidential Directive released to encourage domestic commercial exploitation of space capabilities (PD-37). Carter administration lays the groundwork for eventual commercialization of U.S. civil space assets. Oct. 1978 Presidential Directive on an operational land remote sensing system (PD-42). Carter administration subscribes to data continuity in the land remote sensing satellite program. 1979 Presidential Directive to assign NOAA operating responsibility for all civil remote sensing satellites (PD-54). Carter administration shifts Landsat operations from NASA to NOAA. NOAA was to ensure data continuity through the 1980s and the operation of two additional satellites. 1981 Withdrawal of data continuity commitment (President’s FY 1982 Budget). Reagan administration withdraws Carter commitment to data continuity. Additional satellites beyond Landsat 5 would require private sector investment and operation. 1981 Cabinet Council on Commerce and Trade begins discussions on transfer of land and weather satellites to the private sector. Reagan administration forms body to study the effects of privatization on government agencies and to explore how the government should interact with private remote sensing companies. March 1983 NOAA transfers the nation’s civil operational remote sensing satellites to the private sector. Reagan administration accelerates move to commercialize civil remote sensing satellites. Nov. 1983 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill for FY 1984 forbids the sale of U.S. weather satellites (Public Law 98-166). Congress and the Reagan administration keep weather satellites within the public domain. 1984 Land Remote-Sensing Commercialization Act (Public Law 98-365). Congress establishes the process for commercialization of land remote sensing satellites. 1985 EOSAT wins contract to operate Landsats 4 and 5. Earth Observation Satellite Company (EOSAT) begins operation of Landsats 4 and 5 and sales of the data on the commercial market. 1986 Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space. United Nations resolution adopts legal principles for remote sensing.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research Year Document Significance 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act (Public Law 102-555). Congress transfers responsibility for the Landsat program back to the government (NASA and U.S. Department of Defense [DOD]) and also provides for the continuation of the program with Landsat 7. DOD later withdraws from the program. 1994 U.S. Policy on Foreign Access to Remote Sensing Space Capabilities (PDD-23). Presidential Decision Directive addresses licensing and operation of private remote sensing systems. 1994 Convergence of U.S. Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems (NSTC-2). Clinton administration decision converges into a single national system the planned polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite programs of DOD and NOAA, with NASA participation. 1994 Landsat Remote Sensing Strategy (NSTC-3). Presidential Decision Directive establishes scope of responsibilities for NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Department of the Interior in continuing the Landsat program. 1996 U.S. National Space Policy. The national space policy is updated to be consistent with the administration’s civilian, national security, and commercial space programs and policies. 1996 Kyl-Bingaman Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1997. Amendment prohibits the collection of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel. 1996 Omnibus Civilian Science Authorization Act of 1996 (HR-3322). Congress authorizes $50 million for commercial data purchases for Earth science research for FY 1997. 1998 Commercial Space Act (Public Law 105-303). Congress establishes a framework to keep the U.S. space industry competitive and promote the commercial development of space. 2000 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Concerning the Licensing of Private Remote Sensing Satellite Systems. MOU establishes interagency procedures between the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, Defense, and Interior and the intelligence community for handling remote sensing licensing actions. 2000 U.S. Department of Commerce Licensing of Private Land Remote-Sensing Space Systems—Interim Final Rule. U.S. Department of Commerce issues interim final rule, which sets the requirements for licensing, monitoring, and compliance for private remote sensing systems under the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992, the Commercial Space Act of 1998, and Presidential Decision Directive 23.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research investment in SPOT and Spot Image. In the United States, attempts to develop a publicly and privately funded small synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite program9 were unsuccessful, and a government (military)-funded hyperspectral sensor, “Warfighter,” housed on a commercial remote sensing spacecraft ended in a launch failure. The steering committee focused on the two active public-private partnerships that were established to provide scientific data to the research community—the SDB and SeaWiFS. ACTORS AND STAKEHOLDERS At present, a wide array of actors is involved in the production of satellite remote sensing data in the public, private, and scientific sectors. In the federal government, a functional division of labor for civilian remote sensing exists across science and operational agencies. NASA is the science agency responsible for technological innovation in space, including innovations in remote sensing technologies, and for providing remote sensing data for scientific research. NASA also was given responsibility for maintaining data centers for near-term access and dissemination of these research data, although it does not have responsibility for permanently archiving or preserving the data. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has responsibility for maintaining operational weather satellites, for archiving environmental and climate data,10 and for licensing commercial remote sensing satellite companies, as assigned in the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992. NOAA works closely with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, and State, and the Central Intelligence Agency in this capacity. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains the National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive at the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for data from Landsats 1 through 5 and 7 and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and it plans to hold additional land remote sensing data as well. Other federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, State, and Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are increasingly found in the ranks of both research and applied data users. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) is a clearinghouse 9   For more background on the LightSAR, see Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “LightSAR Business Development and System Design Definition Study,” RFPP No. L04-1-37900-924, Attachment 2: LightSAR Point Design, Pasadena, Calif., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1997; and Space Studies Board, National Research Council, Development and Application of Small Spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radars, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1998. 10   NOAA and NASA have a memorandum of understanding whereby NOAA is to archive Earth Observing System data, but on a “best-effort” basis. See Space Studies Board, National Research Council, Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPP and NPOESS Meteorological Satellites, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 2000, p. 2.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research for remote sensing imagery and mapping data collected by the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community. The private sector in this field is divided into a large number of aerial remote sensing firms and a small number of satellite remote sensing firms. There are, at present, more than 200 aerial remote sensing firms in the United States.11 There are also 12 U.S. private sector firms with licenses to launch some 40 satellites for Earth observation.12 The private sector also includes value-added firms that provide services for clients. The research community consists of scientists and engineers who are generally affiliated with universities and dedicated research centers, but can also be found in the government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations. The workshop held in March 2001 by the Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization reflected this mix by including university scientists, government scientists, and those conducting research in the private sector. Several variations of public-private sector interactions and relationships exist. In fact, the examples of partnerships discussed in this report—SeaWiFS and the SDB—represent two different approaches. SeaWiFS is partnership, while the SDB is akin to a redistributor-end user interaction. (The steering committee uses the term “public-private partnerships” to describe these relationships.) STUDY APPROACH AND ORGANIZATION Despite the policy emphasis in Washington, D.C., on the importance of public-private partnerships in satellite remote sensing and the belief that in some cases these partnerships or private sector data providers could replace government programs to provide remote sensing data for science, not all workshop participants agreed that this approach, a priori, was better than other possible approaches. The steering committee learned that some workshop participants saw great opportunities in new partnerships, while others said that public-private partnerships for science data have not met expectations to date. Most participants were more measured, seeing clear benefits in partnerships but recognizing that not all of the problems associated with the production and use of commercial data sources for research have been resolved. This report reflects these differences and emphasizes ways to enhance and strengthen new partnerships to the benefit of all partners. It became clear in the course of the steering committee’s work, and is discussed at greater length throughout the report, that public-private part- 11   American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing–NASA Industry Forecast, available at <http://aspsrs.org/news.html>; and James Plasker, executive director, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, personal communication, February 22, 2002. 12   The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of International and Interagency Affairs handles licensing of commercial remote sensing satellite systems. Information on NOAA licenses can be found online at <http://www.licensing.noaa.gov>. Accessed October 11, 2001.

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Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research nerships intended to produce data for scientific research have great promise, but that they must involve scientists throughout discussions that lead to arranging public-private partnerships. Through the workshop and its discussions, the steering committee examined public-private partnerships in satellite remote sensing in terms of their capacity to provide useful data for scientific research. In Chapter 2, four models for providing satellite remote sensing data for scientific research are examined. Chapter 3 discusses the NASA Science Data Buy and SeaWiFS as experiments in public-private partnerships. Both programs were developed in response to the changing environment for satellite remote sensing, and both have been operating long enough to provide guidance for developing future public-private partnerships. In addition, these cases are the only examples to date of public-private partnerships that were created to provide remote sensing data for scientific research. Chapter 4 examines the differences in requirements and operations for scientific users of remotely sensed data and for commercial companies that produce the data. Issues such as data management, intellectual property, government processes, metrics, and others that surfaced at the workshop illustrate the contrast in priorities and requirements of the commercial sector and the scientific community. Chapter 5 reports on the steering committee’s findings and recommendations. Appendix A presents a table of selected remote sensing systems, Appendix B provides brief biographies of steering committee members and workshop speakers and panelists, Appendix C includes the workshop agenda and a list of participants, and Appendix D provides a list of acronyms for the report.