FY 2013 R&D REPORT January 6 2014 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
An Exclusive service for Affiliates of the National Council For Science and the Environment
1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
ASA provides approximately one-fifth of all federal environmental R&D funding.
Nearly all of NASA’s environmental R&D comes under the NASA’s Earth Science
theme, which advances knowledge of the integrated Earth system, the global
atmosphere, oceans (including sea ice), land surfaces, ecosystems, and interactions between all
elements, including the impacts of humans.
NASA Earth Science operates 13 satellite missions making calibrated global observations with
high spatial and temporal resolution. Two missions (ICESat, QuikSCAT) recently ended their
main scientific missions after extended lifetimes.
NASA aircraft and surface instruments calibrate, complement, and expand the value of satel-
lite measurements. NASA supports computing capability and capacity for Earth system modeling.
NASA missions produce nearly 4 terabytes of data daily, and NASA maintains the world’s
largest scientific data and information system for processing, archiving, and distributing Earth
system data to worldwide users.
NASA’s activities are carried out through ten centers: the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Langley Research Center, Headquarters, Kennedy Space Center, Stennis
Space Center, Ames Research Center, Marshall Flight Center, Dryden Flight Research Center,
Johnson Space Center and Glenn Research Center.
About one-third of the Earth Science Research budget is competed each year through Research
Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES), with successful investigations funded usually
through three-year grants. Thus, many of the research activities carried out in FY 2014 will be
tasks initiated in FY 2012 and FY 2013.
Most NASA R&D is performed either by industrial firms (about half ) or intramurally (about a
quarter). Universities and colleges perform only a tenth of NASA overall R&D but approximately
a quarter of NASA’s “basic” research.
The agency is also a significant contributor to the U.S. Global Change Research Program
(providing 57 percent of the total—see Chapter 13), the International Geosphere-Biosphere
Program, and the World Climate Research Programme.
Earth Science Research
NASA's Earth Science Research program develops a scientific understanding of Earth and its
response to natural or human-induced changes. Earth is a system, like the human body, composed
of diverse components interacting in complex ways. Understanding Earth's atmosphere,
lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere as a single connected system is necessary in
order to improve our predictions of climate, weather, and natural hazards.
The Earth Science Research program addresses complex, interdisciplinary Earth science
problems in pursuit of a comprehensive understanding of the Earth system. This strategy involves
six interdisciplinary and interrelated science focus areas, including:
• climate variability and change;
• atmospheric composition;
• carbon cycle and ecosystems;
• water and energy cycle;
• weather; and
• Earth surface and interior.
NASA's Earth Science Research program pioneers the use of both space-borne and aircraft
measurements in all of these areas. NASA's Earth Science Research program is critical to the
advancement of the interagency US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). NASA's Earth
Science Research program also makes extensive contributions to international science programs
such as the World Climate Research Programme.
Earth Science Research and Analysis
Research and Analysis is the core of the research program and funds the analysis and
interpretation of data from NASA's satellites. This project funds the scientific activity needed to
establish a rigorous base for the satellites’ data and their use in computational models.
Airborne Science: The Airborne Science project is responsible for providing manned and
unmanned aircraft systems that further science and advance the use of satellite data. NASA uses
these assets worldwide in campaigns to investigate extreme weather events, observe Earth system
processes, obtain data for Earth science modeling activities, and calibrate instruments flying
aboard Earth science spacecraft. NASA Airborne Science platforms support mission definition
and development activities. For example, these activities include instrument development flights;
gathering ice sheet observations as gap fillers between missions (e.g., Operation IceBridge);
serving as technology test beds for Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) missions; and serving as
the observation platforms for research campaigns, such as those that are competitively selected
under the Sub-Orbital portion of Earth Venture.
Interdisciplinary Science: Interdisciplinary Science includes science investigations, as well
as calibration and validation activities, that ensure the utility of space-based measurements. In
addition, it supports focused fieldwork (e.g. airborne campaigns) and specific facility instruments
upon which fieldwork depends.
Carbon Cycle Science: Carbon Cycle Science Team funds research on the distribution and
cycling of carbon among Earth's active land, ocean, and atmospheric reservoirs.
Carbon Monitoring System: Carbon Monitoring System complements NASA’s overall
program in carbon cycle science and observations by producing and distributing products to the
community regarding the flux of carbon between the surface and atmosphere, as well as the stores
of carbon on the surface.
Global Modeling and Assimilation Office: The Global Modeling and Assimilation Office
creates global climate and Earth system component models using data from Earth science
satellites and aircraft. Investigators can then use these products worldwide to further their
Ozone Trends Science: The Ozone Trends Science project produces a consistent, calibrated
ozone record that can be used for trend analyses and other studies.
Space Geodesy: The Space Geodesy project provides global geodetic positioning and support
for geodetic reference frames, which are necessary for climate change and geohazards research.
Geodesy is the science of measuring Earth’s shape, gravity and rotation, and how these change
over time. The Space Geodesy project began in 2011 and is a Goddard Space Flight Center
(GSFC) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) partnership with participation from the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory and the University of Maryland.
Fellowships and New Investigators: Fellowships and New Investigators supports graduate
and early career research in the areas of Earth system research and applied science.
Earth Science Directed Research and Technology: Earth Science Directed Research and
Technology funds the civil service staff that work on emerging Earth Science flight projects,
instruments, and research.
Computing and Management ($XXX million)
The Computing and Management area consists of three projects:
High End Computing Capability (HECC): High End Computing Capability focuses on the Columbia
and Pleiades supercomputer systems and the associated network connectivity, data storage, data analysis,
visualization, and application software support. It serves the supercomputing needs of all NASA mission
directorates and NASA-supported principal investigators at universities. The Science funding supports the
operation, maintenance, and upgrade of NASA's supercomputing capability, while the Strategic Capabilities
Assets Program provides oversight. The two systems, with approximately 117,500 computer processor cores,
support NASA's aeronautics, human exploration, and science missions.
Scientific Computing: The Scientific Computing project funds NASA's Earth Science Discover computing
system, software engineering, and user interface projects at Goddard Space Flight Center, including climate
assessment modeling. Scientific Computing supports Earth science modeling activities based on data collected
by Earth science spacecraft. The system is separate from HECC, so it can be close to the satellite data archives at
the Center. The proximity to the data and the focus on satellite data assimilation makes the Discover cluster
unique in the ability to analyze large volumes of satellite data quickly. The system currently has approximately
31,400 computer processor cores.
Directorate Support: The Directorate Support project funds the Science Mission Directorate’s institutional
and crosscutting activities including: National Academies’ studies, proposal peer review processes, printing and
graphics, information technology, the NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship program, working group support,
independent assessment studies, and other administrative tasks.
Earth Systematic Missions (ESM) includes a broad range of multi-disciplinary science investigations
aimed at understanding the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced forces and
changes. Understanding these forces will help determine how to predict future changes, and how to
mitigate or adapt to these changes.
The ESM program develops Earth-observing research satellite missions, manages the operation of
these missions once on orbit, and produces mission data products in support of research, applications, and
Interagency and international partnerships are a central element throughout the ESM program. Several
of the on-orbit missions provide data products in near-real time for use by US and international
meteorological agencies and disaster responders. Five of the on-orbit missions involve significant
international or interagency collaboration in development. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission
(LDCM), one of the ESM program’s foundational missions, involves collaboration with the US
Geological Survey. GPM is a partnership being developed in cooperation with the Japanese Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission is a partnership
between NASA and the German Space and Earth Science agencies.
The SWOT, GRACE-FO and SAGE III missions entered formulation and are now funded under
separate budget lines. The request also includes funds for NASA to assume responsibility for several
Earth measurements previously held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NASA will begin study on continuing the long history of measurements of solar irradiance, atmospheric
ozone, and Earth’s radiation of energy to space. A newly created Land Imaging project will ensure
continuity of Landsat land imaging data by funding the development of a sustained, space-based, global
land imaging capability. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) recently entered operations after
its successful launch on February 11, 2013 and is now funded under Earth Systematic Mission, Other
Missions and Data Analysis.
Global Precipitation Measurement ($XX million): The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)
mission will advance the measurement of global precipitation. A joint mission with Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency, GPM will provide the first opportunity to calibrate measurements of global
precipitation (including the distribution, amount, rate, and associated heat release) across tropical, mid-
latitude, and Polar Regions.
The GPM mission has several scientific objectives:
Advance precipitation measurement capability from space through combined use of active
and passive remote-sensing techniques;
Advance understanding of global water/energy cycle variability and fresh water availability;
Improve climate prediction by providing the foundation for better understanding of surface
water fluxes, soil moisture storage, cloud/precipitation microphysics and latent heat release in
Advance numerical weather prediction skills through more accurate and frequent
measurements of instantaneous rain rates; and
Improve high-impact natural hazard event (flood and drought, landslide, and hurricanes) and
fresh water-resource prediction capabilities through better temporal sampling and wider
spatial coverage of high-resolution precipitation measurements.
ICESat-2: The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission will serve as an ICESat
follow-on satellite to continue the assessment of polar ice changes. ICESat-2 will also measure vegetation
canopy heights, allowing estimates of biomass and carbon in above ground vegetation in conjunction with
related missions, and allow measurements of solid earth properties. ICESat-2 will continue to provide an
important record of multi-year elevation data needed to determine ice sheet mass balance and cloud
property information. It will also provide topography and vegetation data around the globe in addition to
the polar-specific coverage over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The ICESat-2 mission is a Tier 1
mission recommended by the National Academies. It entered formulation in FY 2010. During FY 2012,
the mission lost its opportunity for a co-manifested launch with the US Air Force, thus necessitating the
procurement of a dedicated launch vehicle. Based on the cost and schedule analysis of the ICESat-2
design, NASA established a launch readiness date of May 2017 at mission confirmation.
Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP): The Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP)
mission will provide a capability for global mapping of soil moisture with unprecedented accuracy,
resolution, and coverage. Future water resources are a critical societal impact of climate change,
and scientific understanding of how such change may affect water supply and food production is
crucial for policy makers. Uncertainty in current climate models result in disagreement on whether
there will be more or less water regionally compared to today. SMAP data will help enable climate
models to be brought into agreement on future trends in water resource availability. SMAP science
objectives are to acquire space-based hydrosphere state measurements over a three-year period to:
understand processes that link the terrestrial water, energy and carbon cycles; estimate global water
and energy fluxes at the land surface; quantify net carbon flux in boreal landscapes; enhance
weather and climate forecast skill; and develop improved flood prediction and drought monitoring
GRACE Follow-On: The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO)
mission will allow scientists to gain new insights into the dynamic processes in Earth's interior,
into currents in the oceans, and into variations in the extent of ice coverage. Data from the mission,
combined with other existing sources of data, will greatly improve scientific understanding of
glaciers, hydrology. GRACE-FO will obtain the same extremely high-resolution global models of
Earth's gravity field, including how it varies over time, as in the original GRACE mission
(launched in 2002). The GRACE-FO data is vital to ensuring there is no gap in gravitational field
measurements between the currently operating GRACE mission and the higher-capability
GRACE-II recommended in the decadal survey. GRACE-FO includes a partnership with Germany.
GRACE-FO has entered into the detailed design phase formulation (Phase B) and a lifecycle cost
range is now provided as part of the budget submission.
Earth Systematic Missions Other Missions and Data Analysis include operating missions and
their science teams. Mission science teams define the scientific requirements for their respective
missions and generate the algorithms used to process the data into useful data products. The
research projects execute competitively selected investigations related to specific mission
Deep Space Observatory (DSCOVR): The Deep Space Observatory mission is a multi-agency
(NOAA, US Air Force, and NASA) mission planned for launch in 2014 with the primary goal of
making unique space weather measurements from the Lagrange point L1. Lagrange point L1 is on
the direct line between Earth and the Sun. NASA will complete the integration of the two Earth-
observing instruments, the Earth Poly-Chromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) and the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) to the DSCOVR
satellite. NASA will also develop and implement the necessary algorithms to enable the “Earth at
noon” images from the satellite once on orbit.
Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT): The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission
will improve our understanding of the world's oceans and terrestrial surface waters. The mission,
through broad swath altimetry, will make high-resolution measurements of ocean circulation, its
kinetic energy, and its dissipation. These measurements will improve ocean circulation models
leading to better prediction of weather and climate. The mission will also revolutionize knowledge
of the surface water inventory on the continents by precise measurement of water levels in millions
of lakes and water bodies and the discharge of all major rivers. This will allow for deeper
understanding of the natural water cycle and the informed control of this resource.
Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III – (SAGE III): SAGE III will provide global,
long-term measurements of key components of Earth's atmosphere. The most important of these
are the vertical distribution of aerosols and ozone from the upper troposphere through the
stratosphere. In addition, SAGE III also provides unique measurements of temperature in the
stratosphere and mesosphere and profiles of trace gases such as water vapor and nitrogen dioxide
that play significant roles in atmospheric radative and chemical processes. These measurements are
vital inputs to the global scientific community for improved understanding of climate, climate
change and human-induced ozone trends.
Land Imaging: The successful launch of the NASA-US Geological Study (USGS) Landsat Data
Continuity Mission (soon to be Landsat-8) mission in February 2013 enables near-term
continuation of the 40-year Landsat record and avoids an immediate gap in land imaging data. In
FY14 NASA will initiate the definition of a sustained, space-based, global land imaging capability
for the nation, ensuring continuity following LDCM. Near-term activities led by NASA, in
cooperation with USGS, will focus on studies to define the scope, measurement approaches, cost,
and risk of a viable long-term land imaging system that will achieve national objectives.
Evaluations and design activities will include consideration of stand-alone new instruments and
satellites, as well as potential international partnerships. It is expected that NASA will support the
overall system design, flight system implementation, and launch of future missions, while USGS
will continue to fund ground system development, post-launch operations, and data processing,
archiving, and distribution.
Earth Science Program Management: The Earth Science Program Management budget supports
the ESM Program Office at GSFC, the Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Office at LaRC
and the Earth Science Flight Project Office at JPL. This budget also supports:
The GSFC conjunction assessment risk analysis function, which determines maneuvers
required to avoid potential collisions between spacecraft and to avoid debris;
The technical and management support for the international Committee on Earth
Observation Satellites, which coordinates civil space-borne observations of Earth.
Participating agencies strive to enhance international coordination and data exchange and
to optimize societal benefit;
NASA’s efforts in support of the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which
will advance state-of-the-art core technologies needed to collect, store, preserve, manage,
analyze, and share huge quantities of data; and
The Independent Program and Assessment Office, which supports various project reviews
for flight projects in Earth Science.
Ocean Surface Topography Science Team: Ocean Surface Topography Science Team uses
scientific data to measure global sea surface height. The data is collected from the Ocean Surface
Topography Mission (OSTM) and Jason satellites.
Precipitation Science Team: The Precipitation Science Team uses scientific data received from
the TRMM satellite to study weather and climate processes. This science team also supports
improvements to the TRMM retrieval algorithms and the development of algorithms for the GPM
Ocean Vector Winds Science Team: Ocean Vector Winds Science Team uses scientific data
received from the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite, which measures ocean surface wind
vectors by sensing ripples caused by winds near the ocean’s surface. From these data, scientists can
compute wind speed and direction thus acquiring hundreds of times more observations of surface
wind velocity each day than is possible from ships or buoys.
Land Cover Project Science Office (LCPSO): The Land Cover Project Science Office maintains
over 40 years of calibration records for the Landsat-1 through Landsat-7 series of satellites. The
office also provides community software tools to make it easier for users to work with this data. In
collaboration with USGS, LCPSO supports improvements in the Landsat-7 long-term acquisition
plan and provision of preprocessed data sets for land-cover change analysis.
Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT): The QuikSCAT mission carries the SeaWinds instrument,
originally designed to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction under nearly all-weather
conditions. Since the antenna stopped rotating in 2009, several years past its design life, the sensor
has become the standard for cross-calibration with other ocean wind scatterometers, enabling both
the continuation of the high-quality ocean winds dataset and the operational forecasts. QuikSCAT
launched in 1999 and is currently in extended operations. The 2011 Earth Science senior review
endorsed the QuikSCAT mission for continued operations through 2013 and preliminarily through
2015. The next senior review will occur in 2013, and will re-evaluate the QuikSCAT mission
extension in terms of scientific value, national interest, technical performance, and proposed cost in
relation to NASA Earth Science strategic plans.
Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM): TRMM measures precipitation, clouds, and
lightning over tropical and subtropical regions and extends our knowledge about how the energy
associated with rainfall interacts with other aspects of the global climate. The TRMM sensor suite
provides a three-dimensional map of storm structure, yielding information on rain intensity and
distribution. TRMM launched in 1997. It is a joint mission with Japan. The 2011 Earth Science
senior review endorsed the TRMM mission for continued operations through 2013 and
preliminarily through 2015. The next senior review will occur in 2013, and will reevaluate the
TRMM mission extension in terms of scientific value, national interest, technical performance, and
proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth Science strategic plans.
Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM): OSTM, or Jason-2, measures sea surface height
and enables scientists to assess climate variability and change, and water and energy cycles. This
mission is a follow-on mission to Jason, which launched in 2008 and recently completed its prime
operations phase. OSTM is a joint mission with NOAA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales
(CNES), and European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. The 2011
Earth Science senior review endorsed the OSTM mission for continued operations through 2013
and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior review will occur in 2013, and will re-evaluate the
OSTM mission extension in terms of scientific value, national interest, technical performance, and
proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth Science strategic plans.
Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP): Suomi NPP launched in October
2011 to ensure critical continuity in the nation’s operational meteorological measurements from the
afternoon orbit. The five instruments on Suomi NPP provide visible and infrared multi-spectral
global imagery, atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles, total ozone and stratospheric ozone
profiles, and measurements of Earth’s radiation balance. In addition to a wide range of applications
studies, the NASA science focus areas served by Suomi NPP include atmospheric composition,
climate variability and change, carbon cycle, ecosystems, water and energy cycles, and weather.
Terra: Terra is one of the Earth Observing System flagship missions. It enables a wide range of
interdisciplinary studies of atmospheric composition, carbon cycle, ecosystems, biogeochemistry,
climate variability and change, water and energy cycles, and weather. Terra launched in 1999 and
is a joint mission with Japan and Canada. The 2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed the Terra
mission for continued operations through 2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior
review will occur in 2013, and will reevaluate the Terra mission extension in terms of scientific
value, national interest, technical performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth
Science strategic plans.
Aqua: Aqua, another of the Earth Observing System flagship missions, also operates in the
afternoon constellation of satellites, known as the A-Train. Aqua improves our understanding of
Earth’s water cycle and the intricacies of the climate system by monitoring atmospheric, land,
ocean, and ice variables. Aqua launched in 2002 and is a joint mission with Brazil and Japan. The
2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed the Aqua mission for continued operations through
2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior review will occur in 2013, and will re-
evaluate the Aqua mission extension in terms of scientific value, national interest, technical
performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth Science strategic plans.
Aura: The Aura mission enables study of atmospheric composition, climate variability and
weather by measuring atmospheric chemical composition, tropospheric/stratospheric exchange of
energy and chemicals, chemistry-climate interactions, and air quality. Aura is also part of the A-
Train. Aura launched in 2004. It is a joint mission with the Netherlands, Finland, and the United
Kingdom. The 2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed the Aura mission for continued
operations through 2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior review will occur in
2013, and will re-evaluate the Aura mission extension in terms of scientific value, national interest,
technical performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth Science strategic plans.
Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor Satellite (ACRIMSAT): The ACRIMSAT was
launched in December 1999 to monitor total solar irradiance, which contributes to assessments of
climate variability. ACRIMSAT data will be correlated with possible global warming data, ice cap
shrinkage data, and ozone layer depletion data. It is theorized that as much as 25 percent of Earth's
total global warming may be solar in origin, due to small increases in the Sun's total energy output
since the last century. By measuring incoming solar radiation and correlating the radiation with
measurements of ocean and atmosphere currents and temperatures, as well as surface temperatures,
climatologists will be able to improve their predictions of climate and global warming over the
Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE): The SORCE mission measures the total
and spectral solar irradiance incident at the top of Earth’s atmosphere. SORCE will provide state-
of-the-art measurements of incoming X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and total solar
radiation in order to address long-term climate change, natural variability and enhanced climate
prediction, and atmospheric ozone and Ultraviolet-B radiation. These measurements are critical to
studies of the Sun, its effect on the Earth system, and its influence on humankind. SORCE
launched in 2003 and is in extended operations. The 2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed
the SORCE mission for continued operations through 2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The
next senior review will occur in 2013, and will re-evaluate the SORCE mission extension in terms
of scientific value, national interest, technical performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA
Earth Science strategic plans.
Jason: The Jason mission makes precise measurements of ocean height to support the study of
ocean circulation and sea level rise. Jason enables oceanographers to monitor global ocean
circulation, improve global climate predictions, and monitor events such as El Niño conditions and
ocean eddies. Jason launched in 2001 and is a collaboration between NASA and the Centre
National d’Études Spatiales (CNES). The 2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed the Jason
mission for continued operations through 2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior
review will occur in 2013, and will re-evaluate the Jason mission extension in terms of scientific
value, national interest, technical performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth
Science strategic plans.
Earth Observing-1 (EO-1): The Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite is an advanced land-imaging
mission with relevance to various areas of Earth Science, including carbon cycle, ecosystems,
biogeochemistry, and Earth surface and interior. EO-1 launched in 2000 and is in extended
operations. The 2011 Earth Science senior review endorsed the EO-1 mission for continued
operations through 2013 and preliminarily through 2015. The next senior review will occur in
2013, and will re-evaluate the EO-1 mission extension in terms of scientific value, national
interest, technical performance, and proposed cost in relation to NASA Earth Science strategic
Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM): The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is the eighth
in the Landsat series of satellites that have been continuously observing Earth's land surfaces by
recording data since 1972. This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the
improvement of human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning,
disaster recovery and agriculture monitoring. This results in incalculable benefits to the US and
The Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program provides an innovative approach to
Earth science research by providing frequent regular, competitively selected opportunities that
accommodate new and emerging scientific priorities and measurement capabilities. This results in
a series of relatively low-cost, small-sized investigations and missions. These missions are led by
principal investigators whose scientific objectives support a variety of studies, including the
atmosphere, oceans, land surface, polar ice regions, or solid Earth. ESSP projects include space
missions, space-based remote sensing instruments for missions of opportunity, and extended
duration airborne science missions. The ESSP program also supports the conduct of science
research utilizing data from these missions. ESSP projects often involve partnerships with other
US agencies and/or international organizations. This portfolio of missions and investigations
provides opportunity for investment in innovative Earth science that enhances NASA’s capability
for better understanding the current state of the Earth system.
Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) ($XX million) — will monitor the concentration levels
of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), a critical component of Earth's atmosphere. Since the beginning
of the industrial age, the concentration of CO2 has increased by about 38 percent. Scientific studies
indicate that CO2 is one of several greenhouse gases that trap heat near Earth's surface. Most scientists
have concluded that substantial increases in CO2 will generate an increase in the overall Earth's
surface temperature, referred to as global warming. Historical records provide evidence of this trend.
Additional detail can be found in the OCO-2 section of this document.
Venture Class Missions ($XX million) — Frequent flight opportunities for high-
quality Earth science investigations that are low cost and that can be developed
and flown in five years or less. The investigations will be selected through open
competitions to ensure broad community involvement and encourage innovative
approaches. Successful investigations will enhance our capabili ty to understand
better the current state of the Earth system and to enable continual improvement
in the prediction of future changes. Solicitations will alternate between space-
borne and airborne/suborbital opportunities.
Other Missions and Data Analysis ($XX million) — ESSP Other Missions and Data Analysis
includes operating missions and mission-specific research. These innovative missions will provide Earth
science to enhance understanding of the current state of the Earth system and to enable continual
improvement in the prediction of future changes.
• The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3, is a space instrument that will investigate
important questions about the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth as it relates to
growing urban populations and changing patterns of fossil fuel combustion.
• The Aquarius spacecraft observes and models seasonal and year-to-year variations of sea-
surface salinity and how these variations relate to changes in the water cycle and ocean
• Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) measures minute changes in Earth’s
gravity field by measuring micron-scale variations in the separation between the two spacecraft
that fly in formation 220 kilometers apart in low Earth orbit.
• CloudSat measures cloud characteristics to increase understanding of the role of
clouds in Earth’s radiation budget.
• Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) provides data
on the vertical structure of clouds, the geographic and vertical distribution of aerosols and
detects sub visible clouds in the upper troposphere.
The Earth Science Multi-Mission Operations (MMO) program acquires, preserves, and
distributes observational data from operating spacecraft to support Earth Science focus areas.
This is accomplished primarily by the Earth Observing System Data and Information System
(EOSDIS), which has been in operations since 1994. EOSDIS acquires, processes, archives, and
distributes Earth Science data and information products. These products are created from satellite
data and arrive at the rate of more than four terabytes per day. NASA Earth Science information
is archived at eight Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) and four disciplinary data
centers located across the United States. The DAACs specialize by topic area, and make their
data available to researchers around the world. The MMO budget supports the science data
Segment for Suomi NPP, and data archive and distribution for upcoming missions including
OCO-2, SMAP, GPM and ICESAT-2. EOSDIS data centers also support Earth Science suborbital
campaigns. A system plan for 2015 and beyond will take into account evolutionary needs for new
missions being developed in response to the National Academies decadal survey. These
investments will enable the system to keep technologically current, and incorporate new research
data and services.
The EOSDIS project provides science data to a wide community of users, including NASA, Federal
agencies, international partners, academia, and the public. EOSDIS provides users with the services
and tools they need in order to use NASA’s Earth science data in research and creation of models.
EOSDIS archives and distributes data through standardized science data products, using algorithms
and software developed by Earth Science investigators. The EOSDIS project also funds research
opportunities related to EOSDIS. Current programs include Advanced Collaborative Connections for
Earth System Science (ACCESS) and Making Earth System data records for Use in Research
Environments (MEaSUREs). ACCESS projects increase the interconnectedness and reuse of key
information-technology software and services in use across the spectrum of Earth science
investigations. ACCESS also supports the deployment of data and information systems and services
that enable the freer movement of data and information. ACCESS researchers develop needed tools
and services to aid in measurable improvements to Earth science data access and usability. Through the
MEaSUREs activity, researchers investigate new types of sensors to provide three-dimensional profiles
of Earth’s atmosphere and surface. Emphasis is placed on linking data from multiple satellites, and
then facilitating the use of this data in the development of comprehensive Earth system models.
Advanced technology plays a major role in enabling Earth research and applications. The Earth Science
Technology Program (ESTP) enables previously infeasible science investigations; improves existing
measurement capabilities; and reduces the cost, risk, and/or development times for Earth science
instruments. NASA has been increased funding for the Advanced Technology Initiatives project to support
more robust technology space flight validation. This will help to reduce the cost and risk of new flight
missions by providing more mature instruments. Program elements are:
Instrument Incubator —This project develops instrument and measurement techniques at the system
level, including laboratory breadboards and operational prototypes for airborne validation. Currently, 35
Instrument Incubator efforts are funded. For example, several instrument prototypes for measuring carbon
dioxide are under development. Another effort is developing technologies that enable light measurement in
across the spectrum from ultraviolet to visible to infrared. Instrument Incubator also supports the
development of a unique type of Lidar that could one day be used to make 3-D wind measurements.
Advanced Information Systems Technology (AIST) — This project develops end-to-end
information technologies that enable new Earth observation measurements and information products.
The technologies help process, archive, access, visualize, communicate, and understand science data.
Advanced Technology Initiatives — This project enables development of critical component and
subsystem technologies for instruments and platforms, mostly in support of the Earth science decadal
survey. Current awards focus on areas such as pace-qualified laser transmitters, passive optical
technologies, and microwave and calibration technologies. Other awards support measurements of
solar radiance, ozone, aerosols, and atmospheric gas columns for air quality and ocean color for coastal
ecosystem health and climate emissions.
The NASA Applied Sciences program leverages NASA Earth Science satellite measurements and
new scientific knowledge to provide innovative and practical uses for public and private sector
organizations. It also enables near-term uses of Earth science knowledge, discovers and demonstrates
new applications, and facilitates adoption of applications by non-NASA stakeholder organizations.
Applied Sciences projects improve decision-making activities to help the Nation better manage its
resources, improve quality of life, and strengthen the economy. NASA develops Earth science
applications in collaboration with end-users in public, private, and academic organizations.
ACRIMSAT(1999) ACRIMSATisthelatestinaseries oflong-termsolar-monitoringmissions
snowcovers, andvegetation, to advance understanding of Earth’s climate and itsvariations.
Aura(2004) Auracarriesinstrumentsthatmonitoratmospheric tracegasesandadvance
understanding of thechemistry and dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere.
CALIPSO (2006) CALIPSOcollectsdataontheeffectsofcloudsandaerosols
CloudSat (2006) CloudSatusesadvancedradarto“slice”throughclouds toseetheirvertical
structure, providing a completely new observational capability from space.
EarthObserving-1(NMP)(2000) NMP EO-1 is an advancedland-imaging mission that will demonstrate new
GRACE (2002) GRACEmapsvariationsintheEarth’sgravityfield.Ithastwoidenticalspacecrafts
flying about 220 kilometers apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers above the Earth.
Jason-1 (2001) Jasonis anoceanography missionto monitorglobal oceancirculation, improveglobal
other things, LAGEOSprovide data ontectonic platemovements associatedwithcontinental drift.
Landsat7(1999) Landsat 7 systematically provides well-calibrated, multispectral, moderate
resolution, substantially cloud-free, Sun-lit digital images of the Earth’s continental
NOAA-N (2005) NOAA-Nisthelatestpolar-orbitingsatellitedevelopedbyNASAfortheNationalOceanicand
environment to improve weather prediction and climate research across the globe.
OSTM (2008) OSTMcarriestheinstrumentJason-2whichmeasuresseasurfaceheighttoan
accuracy of < 3.3 cm every ten daysfor determining oceancirculation, climate change
QuikSCAT(1999) QuikSCAT records sea-surface wind speed and direction data under all
weather and cloud conditions over Earth’s oceans.
SeaStar (SeaWiFS) (1997) SeaStarcarries theSeaWiFSinstrument,whichisdesignedtomonitorthecoloroftheworld’soceans.
SeaWinds (ADEOS II) (2002) TheSeaWindsscatterometerisaspecializedmicrowaveradarthatmeasures
near-surface wind velocity (both speed and direction) under all weather and
SORCE (2003) SORCEprovidesmeasurementsofincomingx-ray,ultraviolet,visible,near-infrared,
and total solar radiation in support of understanding long-term climate change, natural
variability and enhanced climate prediction, and atmospheric ozone and UV-B radiation.
Terraprovides global dataonthestateoftheatmosphere,land, and oceans,as well
as their interactions with solar radiation and with one another.
TRMM (1997) TRMMisajointmissionbetweenNASAandtheNationalSpaceDevelopmentAgency(NASDA)of
Japan.TRMM is particularly devoted to determining rainfall in the tropics and subtropics of the Earth.