Statement of Task


Background NASA officials have long envisioned developing operational versions of some of the advanced climate and weather monitoring instruments planned for the Earth Observing System (EOS) afternoon (PM) satellite. In the 1995 EOS “Reshape” exercise, NASA adopted the assumption that some of the measurements in the second PM series would be supplied by the Department of Commerce (NOAA) and Department of Defense (Air Force) National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). NASA is about to begin intensive planning for the EOS-PM mission. NASA is also examining the potential for advanced instruments on future versions of the NOAA GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) satellites to be integrated into the EOS program.

Integrating NOAA-DOD operational weather satellites into NASA's Earth Observing System program poses numerous interrelated technical and organizational challenges. By definition, the “operational” weather programs of NOAA and DOD must meet the needs of users who require unbroken data streams. Historically, development of operational instrumentation has been successful when managed with a disciplined, conservative approach towards the introduction of new technology. In addition to minimizing technical risk, minimizing cost has been an important factor in the success of operational programs, especially for NOAA.

Achieving NASA research aims on a satellite designed to meet the operational needs of the civil and defense communities will require agreement on joint agency requirements, and coordination of instrument development activities, launch schedules, and precursor flight activities. The proposed study will include an analysis of these issues, especially those related to (1) sensor design and development, (2) program synchronization, and (3) data continuity and interoperability.

Plan The proposed study will analyze generic issues related to the transition of NASA research satellite instrumentation for NOAA operational use. The study will focus in particular on observational priorities and technical issues related to the potential integration of the NOAA-DOD NPOESS satellite with the NASA EOS “PM” series of satellites. Among the key questions to be addressed are:

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