An ad hoc committee will develop a framework to assist NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD) in their determinations of when a measurement(s) or data set(s) should be collected for durations longer than the typical lifetimes of single satellite missions. Although focused on the particular needs of NASA’s Earth Science Division, the committee will consider the relevant current and planned Earth observation programs of NOAA and the USGS. In addition, the committee will review existing NASA policy regarding the scope of its Earth Science Program; the 2007 NRC decadal survey, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond; and the 2010 NASA report, Responding to the Challenge of Climate and Environment Change: NASA’s Plan for a Climate-Centric Architecture for Earth Observations and Applications from Space.
The committee will seek to provide guidance to NASA that will be broadly applicable under a variety of scenarios that might unfold over decadal timeframes. In particular, and considering the expected constrained budgets for the NASA earth science program, the committee will:
- Provide working definitions of, and describe the roles for “continuity” for the measurements and data sets ESD initiates and uses to accomplish Earth system science objectives;
- Establish methodologies and/or metrics that can be used by NASA to inform strategic programmatic decisions regarding the scope and design of its observation and processing systems:
- In the context of limited resources and recognizing the programmatic and fiscal tension between the scientific benefits of providing sustained measurements on the one hand, and developing and demonstrating new or improved measurements on the other hand, determine whether a measurement(s) should be collected for extended periods, and provide guidance concerning methods to determine the appropriate balance between cost, risk, and performance when addressing continuity needs for specific measurements; and
- Prioritize the relative importance of measurements that are to be collected for extended periods;
- Identify the characteristics of, and extent to which, data gaps and/or accuracy/sampling/stability degradations are acceptable for existing and planned data sets;
- In addition, where appropriate in addressing the Statement of Task, the committee may:
- Examine other means for achieving effective continuity such as alternative, non-space-based instrument platforms;
- Examine the potential enhancements or degradations in the scientific utility of information products that might result from combining multiple measurement sources (versus single-mission or single-instrument information products); and,
- Provide illustrations of how the proposed framework might be applied to evaluate either the present NASA-ESD Climate-Centric Architecture, or used in the creation of recommendations for the upcoming decadal survey in Earth science and applications from space.