In January 2007, the SSB Earth science decadal survey committee delivered to agency sponsors a prepublication version of its final report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. However, prior to delivery of the report, NASA and NOAA requested that additional tasks be added to the survey statement of task. The new tasks focus on recovery of measurement capabilities, especially those related to climate research, which were lost as a result of changes in plans for the next generation of polar and geostationary environmental monitoring satellites, NPOESS and GOES-R. It was mutually agreed that the new tasks would be addressed in a separate, follow-on report that would draw on the results of a major workshop. The new tasks are as follows:
Analyze the impact of the changes to the NPOESS program that were announced in June 2006 and changes to the GOES-R series as described in the NOAA testimony to Congress on September 29, 2006. These changes included reduction in the number of planned NPOESS satellites, the deletion or descoping of particular instruments, and a delay in the planned launch of the first NPOESS satellite. In addition, recent changes to the GOES-R series resulted in deletion or descoping of instrumentation and a delay in the first spacecraft launch. The committee should give particular attention to impacts in areas associated with climate research, other NOAA strategic goals, and related GEOSS/IEOS societal benefit areas. The analysis should include discussions related to continuity of existing measurements and development of new research and operational capabilities.
Develop a strategy to mitigate the impact of the changes described in the item above. The committee will prioritize capabilities that were lost or placed at risk following the changes to NPOESS and the GOES-R series and present strategies to recover these capabilities. Included in this assessment will be an analysis of the capabilities of the portfolio of missions recommended in the decadal strategy to recover these capabilities, especially those related to research on Earth’s climate. The changes to the NPOESS and GOES-R programs may also offer new opportunities. The committee should provide a preliminary assessment of the risks, benefits, and costs of placing—on NPOESS, GOES-R, or on other platforms—alternative sensors to those planned for NPOESS. Finally, the committee will consider the advantages and disadvantages of relying on capabilities that may be developed by our European and Japanese partners.
NOTE: Subsequent discussions with agency sponsors resulted in agreement to perform these tasks in two parts. Part I would consist of a workshop that would inform a subsequent study that would include panel findings and recommendations regarding mitigation strategies. The second part of the study will be completed in early 2008.