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A Statement of Task The Space Studies Board will organize a study, “Earth Observations from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future.” The study will generate consensus recommendations from the Earth and environmental science and applications community regarding science priorities, opportunities afforded by new measurement types and new vantage points, and a systems approach to space-based and ancillary observations that encompasses the research programs of NASA and the related operational programs of NOAA. During this study, the committee will conduct the following tasks. Review the status of the field to assess recent progress in resolving major scientific questions outlined in relevant prior NRC, NASA, and other relevant studies and in realizing desired predictive and applications capabilities via space-based Earth observations. Develop a consensus of the top-level scientific questions that should provide the focus for Earth and environmental observations in the period 2005–2015. Take into account the principal federal- and state-level users of these observations and identify opportunities and challenges to the exploitation of the data generated by Earth observations from space. Recommend a prioritized list of measurements, and identify potential new space-based capabilities and supporting activities within NASA [Earth Science Enterprise] and NOAA [National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service] to support national needs for research and monitoring of the dynamic Earth system during the decade 2005–2015. In addition to elucidating the fundamental physical processes that underlie the interconnected issues of climate and global change, these needs include: weather forecasting, seasonal climate prediction, aviation safety, natural resources management, agricultural assessment, homeland security, and infrastructure planning. Identify important directions that should influence planning for the decade beyond 2015. For example, the committee will consider what ground-based and in-situ capabilities are anticipated over the next 10–20 years and how future space-based observing systems might leverage these capabilities. The committee will also give particular attention to strategies for NOAA to evolve current capabilities while
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meeting operational needs to collect, archive, and disseminate high quality data products related to weather, atmosphere, oceans, land, and the near-space environment. The committee will address critical technology development requirements and opportunities; needs and opportunities for establishing and capitalizing on partnerships between NASA and NOAA and other public and private entities; and the human resource aspects of the field involving education, career opportunities, and public outreach. A minor but important part of the study will be the review of complementary initiatives of other nations in order to identify potential cooperative programs.
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