the scientific community is poised to make great progress toward understanding and predicting the complexity of the Earth system. However, building a predictive capability relies strongly on the availability of intercalibrated long-term data records, which can only be maintained if subsequent generations of satellite sensors overlap with their predecessors. As the decadal survey points out, the capability to observe Earth from space is jeopardized by delays in and lack of funding for many critical satellite missions.
The decadal survey and this committee both recommend that the nation’s commitment to continue Earth observations from space be renewed. Resources will be required to maintain the current momentum and not risk losing the workforce and infrastructure built over the past decades. Given the many scientific challenges ahead, we have seen only the beginning of an era of Earth observations from space. A report in 50 years will present many more significant achievements and discoveries and highlight how satellites played a vital role in observing the dynamics of the Earth system and in guiding our nation and others in meeting the challenges posed by global changes.