National Aeronautics & Space Administration
NASA’s global change activities have four integrated foci: satellite observations, research and analysis, applications, and technology development. Satellites provide critical global atmosphere, ocean, land, sea ice, and ecosystem measurements. NASA’s 22 on-orbit satellite missions (as of July 2016) measure numerous variables required to enhance understanding of Earth interactions. NASA is now routinely providing data from satellites launched in the 12-month period from February 2014 to January 2015: including precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), carbon dioxide data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO- 2), and soil moisture data from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), as well as wind and aerosol/cloud data from two payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS), RapidScat and Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, respectively. NASA is also contributing to ocean and atmosphere observations with satellites launched by interagency partners (Jason-3, Deep Space Climate Observatory). NASA has delivered two payloads for planned late 2016 launch to the ISS: the Lightning Imaging Sensor, and the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment-III. In November 2016, NASA will launch the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System constellation of eight nanosatellites to study winds associated with tropical storms and severe weather systems. In 2016, NASA selected two additional satellite missions as part of its Earth Venture–Instrument series of missions: 1) the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols, which will provide observations of small atmospheric aerosol particles to be combined with health information to determine the toxicity of different particulate matter types in airborne pollutants over the world’s major cities; and 2) Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, which will develop and launch a constellation of CubeSats to study the development of tropical cyclones through rapid-revisit sampling.
The Administration’s FY 2017 budget also enables NASA to continue its program in sustainable land imaging (in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey) and in long-term monitoring responsibility for environmental parameters not directly in support of weather forecasting, such as solar radiation, Earth radiation budget, ozone vertical profile, and sea-surface height.
NASA’s program advances observing technology and leads to new and enhanced space-based observation and information systems. The Earth science research program explores interactions among the major components of the Earth system—continents, oceans, atmosphere, ice, and life—to distinguish natural from human-induced causes of change and to understand and predict the consequences of change. NASA makes significant investments to assure the quality and integration of data through calibration and validation efforts that include satellite, surface, and airborne measurements, as well as data intercomparisons. NASA also carries out observationally driven modeling projects that include data assimilation, reanalysis, process representation, initialization, and verification. Six significant new multi-year airborne campaigns initiated in 2015 began deployment in 2016. They address major global environmental issues: sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon in the continental United States; the role of the ocean in melting of ice sheets at the coast of Greenland; the effects of biomass burning in Africa on cloud structure off its western coast; the latitudinal variation of radiatively- and chemically-active trace constituents in the upper troposphere over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; and the seasonal variation of biological productivity in the North Atlantic ocean and its implications for the overlying atmosphere. Applications projects extend the societal benefits of NASA’s research, technology, and spaceflight programs to the broader U.S. public through the development and transition of user-defined tools for decision support, and are focused on such areas as water resources, health/air quality, and ecological forecasting. The Earth science technology program enables previously infeasible science investigations, improves existing measurement capabilities, and reduces the cost, risk, and/or development times for Earth science instruments. During the FY 2016/FY 2017 timeframe it will launch several small satellites as part of its InSpace Validation of Earth Science Technologies.