Tag Archive | Space

Earth-observation satellites: Something to watch over us

by Economist, May 12, 2012

ON APRIL 8th Envisat, Europe’s largest Earth-observing satellite, unexpectedly stopped talking to its users on the Earth below. Since then those users have been frantically trying to re-establish contact. They rely on Envisat’s radars and other sensors for a wide range of measurements, from the temperature of the oceans to the chemistry of the stratosphere. Scientists have used it to gauge ocean conditions for shipping and to investigate earthquakes; its data have been the basis of thousands of scientific papers.

For full text of the article, visit Earth-observation satellites: Something to watch over us | The Economist.

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WPost Wants Earth Observation Satellites to Get More Political Attention

by Marcia Smith, SpacePolicyOnline.com, May 6, 2012

The Washington Post wants NASA’s earth science satellites and NOAA’s weather satellites to be on the list of issues debated in this presidential election year. … The editorial comes in the wake of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) “mid-term review” of how NASA and NOAA are implementing the recommendations of the NRC’s 2007 Earth Science and Applications from Space (ESAS) Decadal Survey. … The editorial does not mention…the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recommendation to transfer NOAA’s satellite programs to NASA because it believes NOAA manages those programs poorly…

For full text of the article, visit WPost Wants Earth Observation Satellites to Get More Political Attention.

The emergence of spatial cyberinfrastructure

Dawn J. Wrighta, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, and

Shaowen Wang, Department of Geography and National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103051108 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences April 5, 2011 vol. 108 no. 14 5488-5491

Abstract: Cyberinfrastructure integrates advanced computer, information, and communication technologies to empower computation-based and data-driven scientific practice and improve the synthesis and analysis of scientific data in a collaborative and shared fashion. As such, it now represents a paradigm shift in scientific research that has facilitated easy access to computational utilities and streamlined collaboration across distance and disciplines, thereby enabling scientific breakthroughs to be reached more quickly and efficiently. Spatial cyberinfrastructure seeks to resolve longstanding complex problems of handling and analyzing massive and heterogeneous spatial datasets as well as the necessity and benefits of sharing spatial data flexibly and securely. This article provides an overview and potential future directions of spatial cyberinfrastructure. The remaining four articles of the special feature are introduced and situated in the context of providing empirical examples of how spatial cyberinfrastructure is extending and enhancing scientific practice for improved synthesis and analysis of both physical and social science data. The primary focus of the articles is spatial analyses using distributed and high-performance computing, sensor networks, and other advanced information technology capabilities to transform massive spatial datasets into insights and knowledge.

via The emergence of spatial cyberinfrastructure.

The Future of Geospatial Data Management: A Natural Resource Perspective

Burley, T.E., and Peine, J.D., 2010, The Future of Geospatial Data Management: A Natural Resource Perspective, GeoWorld, v.23, no. 7, p. 20-23.

Do you know where your data are or how they came to be? This question has been pondered by nearly everyone working in natural-resource management. Spatial data, in particular, are being collected at a significant rate, and an increasing number of sources are freely available. Geospatial tools and technology that were “cutting edge” 10 years ago now are expected as a component of most natural-resource studies. And an increased realization that spatial data are unique and valuable has shaped the types of data and information used in decision making.New types of geospatial data and information have led to exciting approaches to resource-management issues. These new geospatial data and information come with many considerations, such as spatial accuracy, projection and datum, field methods, and electronic formats. Although GIS and GPS technology greatly contribute to improved resource management and decision making, such tools don’t automatically lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness. When these tools are used without careful pre-planning, the ability to capitalize on their potential is lost or greatly diminished. Data deficiencies resulting from poor data documentation and overall data management shortcomings can greatly reduce the value and utility of spatial data, and impede the ability to address natural-resource management issues in the most effective manner. …

For full text of the article, click here.

NASA Authorization Act of 2010

Obama Signs NASA Reauthorization

President Signs the NASA Authorization bill, October 11, 2010. Credit: NASA photo courtesy of Pete Souza

President Obama Signs NASA Authorization Bill

Source: Space News, October 11, 2010. WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama on Oct. 11 signed into law a three-year NASA authorization bill that sets a new course for American human spaceflight. Hours before Obama put his signature on the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (S. 3729) top NASA officials and U.S. lawmakers told reporters they welcomed the bill’s enactment but warned partisan pushback could threaten funding for the $58 billion measure when Congress reconvenes following mid-term elections in November. … For full text of this article, click here.

Winners and losers from NASA Authorization Act

Source: Nature, September 30, 2010.Like any federal agency, NASA is subject to the whims of Congress, which funds its activities. And following the passage of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 on 29 September, the agency’s priorities have been reshaped.  … For full text of this article, click here.

House Gives Final Approval to NASA Authorization Act

Source: Space News, September 30, 2010. NEW YORK and WASHINGTON — The U.S. Congress passed a NASA authorization bill late Sept. 29, paving the way for an extra space shuttle flight next year and a new human spaceflight plan that takes aim at missions to an asteroid and Mars. … For full text of this article, click here.

Reaction to the House Vote

Source: Space Politics, September 30, 2010. The final recorded vote for S.3729 in the House last night is available. … For full text of this article, click here.

NASA Legisltiave Affairs Website

 

S. 3729 Title VIIEarth Science

SEC. 701. SENSE OF CONGRESS.It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) Earth observations are critical to scientific understanding and monitoring of the Earth system, to protecting human health and property, to growing the economy of the United States, and to strengthening the national security and international posture of the United States. Additionally, recognizing the number of relevant participants and activities involved with Earth observations within the United States Government and internationally, Congress supports the strengthening of collaboration across these areas;

(2) NASA plays a critical role through its ability to provide data on solar output, sea level rise, at mospheric and ocean temperature, ozone depletion, air pollution, and observation of human and environment relationships;

(3) programs should utilize open standards consistent with international data-sharing principles and obtain and convert data from other government agencies, including data from the United States Geological Survey, and data derived from satellites operated by NOAA as well as from international satellites are important to the study of climate science and such cooperative relationships and programs should be maintained;

(4) Earth-observing satellites and sustained monitoring programs will continue to play a vital role in climate science, environmental understanding, mitigation of destructive environmental impacts, and contributing to the general national welfare; and (5) land remote sensing observation plays a critical role in Earth science, and the national space policy supports this role by requiring operational land remote sensing capabilities.

SEC. 702. INTERAGENCY COLLABORATION IMPLEMENTATION APPROACH.

The Director of OSTP shall establish a mechanism to ensure greater coordination of the research, operations, and activities relating to civilian Earth observation of  those Agencies, including NASA, that have active programs that either contribute directly or indirectly to these areas. This mechanism should include the development of a strategic implementation plan that is updated at least every 3 years, and includes a process for external independent advisory input. This plan should include a description of the responsibilities of the various Agency roles in Earth observations, recommended cost-sharing and procurement arrangements between Agencies and other entities, including international arrangements, and a plan for ensuring the provision of sustained, long term space-basedclimate observations. The Director shall provide a report to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act on the implementation plan for this mechanism.

SEC. 703. TRANSITIONING EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS.

The Administrator shall coordinate with the Administrator of NOAA and the Director of the United States Geological Survey to establish a formal mechanism that plans, coordinates, and supports the transitioning of NASA research findings, assets, and capabilities to NOAA operations and United States Geological Survey operations. In defining this mechanism, NASA should consider the establishment of a formal or informal Interagency Transition Office. The Administrator of NASA shall provide an implementation plan for this mechanism to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this 23 Act. 68

SEC. 704. DECADAL SURVEY MISSIONS IMPLEMENTATION FOR EARTH OBSERVATION.

The Administrator shall undertake to implement, as appropriate, missions identified in the National Research Council’s Earth Science Decadal Survey within the scope of the funds authorized for the Earth Science Mission Directorate.

SEC. 705. EXPANSION OF EARTH SCIENCE APPLICATIONS.

It is the sense of the Congress that the role of NASA in Earth Science applications shall be expanded with other departments and agencies of the Federal government, State and local governments, tribal governments, academia, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and international partners. NASA’s Earth science data can in creasingly aid efforts to improve the human condition and provide greater security.

See also: http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2921

RFF Value of Information Workshop Report Released

Blue Marble composite images generated by NASA...

Image via Wikipedia

The Value of Information: Methodological Frontier and New Applications for Realizing Social Benefit

by Molly Macauley and Ramanan Laxminarayan,  Resources for the Future, Published August 2010

This report highlights the major conclusions and outcomes from a workshop held June 28–29, 2010 at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC, on methodological frontiers and new applications of valuing information and its social benefit. The participants provided answers to a series of questions: What is meant by “value of information”? When does information have value? What are state-of-the-practice methods to ascribe value to information? Participants also identified steps to ascribe, measure, and communicate value.

The workshop was distinctive in serving as the first multi-day, in-depth meeting to convene experts in the two disparate communities of social science and Earth science to identify and critique state-of-the-practice methods for ascribing value and societal benefit to information. The workshop outputs include specific recommendations and actions to enhance and further demonstrate the value of information from public investments, particularly those in Earth science applications.

A main finding is that investment in Earth observations confers many benefits but a lack of tools and resources has caused these benefits to be less well measured and communicated than warranted. The report includes suggestions attendees offered as next steps to enhance modeling, evaluation, and communication of the array of benefits.

Report PDF can be found at: http://www.rff.org/Publications/Pages/PublicationDetails.aspx?PublicationID=21266

Interestingly, one participant of the workshop remarked on “the difference between public and private sector perspectives.  In the public sector (and academia), the primary questions seem to concern the overall value of information.  To be useful in the private sector, such questions must be augmented by knowledge of how that value is allocated throughout the supplier-customer chain.”

For commentary by one of the workshop’s steering committee members, Bill Hooke, visit his blog posting Knowing What the Earth Will Do Next? Priceless.

**Also, check out the comment posted by Bill Gail, another workshop steering committee member,  by clicking the comment link right under the title at the very top of the post.

NASA Authorization Bill of 2010 and Earth Observation

The House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) released the legislative text of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. The bill is co-sponsored by Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX).

Furthermore, the Chairman has also announced the Committee intends to notice a mark up for Thursday, July 22nd at 10:00 AM in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building to consider this legislation. Visit the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics website for more information.

The Senate version of the bill was marked up on July 15th in an executive session of the Commerce Committee.

Selected sections of the House and Senate bills related to Earth Science and Earth Observations:

HOUSE DRAFT Bill (before markup):

TITLE III. SCIENCE

Subtitle A. Earth Science

Sec. 301 Earth Science Applications

Directs the Administrator to develop a process for entering into arrangements with other government agencies that seek to benefit from ongoing NASA capabilities related to Earth science applications and decision support systems.

Sec. 302. Essential Space-Based Earth Science and Climate Measurements

Directs the Administrator to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies for a study, to be completed within 18 months after the enactment of this Act, to develop a prioritized list of essential earth science and climate measurements that can be collected with space-based means.

Sec. 303. Commercial Remote Sensing Data Purchases Pilot Project

Directs the Administrator to initiate a pilot project for purchasing commercial remote sensing data to address state, local, regional, and tribal needs.

TITLE IX. OTHER PROVISIONS

Sec. 901. Cloud Computing

Directs the Comptroller General to transmit a report detailing whether sensitive but unclassified and classified NASA information was processed on a non-Federal cloud computing facility and if so, how NASA ensured the safeguarding of NASA’s scientific and technical information.

Sec905. Space Weather

Directs the Director of OSTP to prepare a long-term strategy for a sustainable space weather program and develop a plan to implement the strategy, to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies to assess the status of capabilities for space weather prediction, and transmit the results of these activities no later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Act.

Sec. 906. Use of Operational Commercial Suborbital Vehicles for Research, Development, and Education

Directs the Administrator to prepare a plan describing the processes required to support the potential use of commercial reusable suborbital flight vehicles for carrying out scientific and engineering investigations and educational activities; assess and characterize the potential capabilities and performance of commercial reusable suborbital vehicles for addressing scientific research; and transmit the plan and assessment within one year after the date of enactment of this Act. Prohibits the Administrator from proceeding with a procurement award for the provision of a commercial reusable suborbital vehicle launch service until all indemnification and liability issues have been addressed and the Administrator has provided a report describing the indemnification and liability provisions that are planned to be included in such contract(s).

TITLE VIII. ACQUISITION MANAGEMENT

Sec. 801. Prohibition on Expenditure of Funds When 30 Percent Threshold Is Exceeded

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization of 2005 is amended to clarify the starting point of the period at the end of which NASA is prohibited from expending further funds on a project.

Sec. 802Project and Program Reserves

Directs the Administrator to transmit not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act a report describing NASA’s criteria for establishing the amount of reserves at the Project and Program levels.

Sec. 803. Independent Reviews

Directs the Administrator to transmit not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act a report describing internal entities that conduct independent reviews of projects and programs at life cycle milestones and how NASA ensures the independence of members prior to their assignment.


SENATE DRAFT Bill:

TITLE VII—EARTH SCIENCE

SEC. 701. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) Earth observations are critical to scientific understanding and monitoring of the Earth system, to protecting human health and property, to growing the economy of the United States, and to strengthening the national security and international posture of the United States. Additionally, recognizing the number of relevant participants and activities involved with Earth observations within the United States Government and internationally, Congress supports the strengthening of collaboration across these areas;

(2) NASA plays a critical role through its ability to provide data on solar output, sea level rise, atmospheric and ocean temperature, ozone depletion, air pollution, and observation of human and environ1ment relationships;

(3) programs that utilize open standards consistent with international data-sharing principles and obtain and convert data from other government agencies, including data derived from satellites operated by NOAA as well as from international satellites are important to the study of climate science and such cooperative relationships and programs should be maintained; and

(4) Earth-observing satellites and sustained monitoring programs will continue to play a vital role in climate science, environmental understanding, mitigation of destructive environmental impacts, and contributing to the general national welfare.

SEC. 702. INTER-AGENCY COLLABORATION IMPLEMENTA TION APPROACH.

The Director of OSTP shall establish a mechanism to ensure greater coordination of the research, operations, and activities relating to civilian Earth observation of those Agencies, including NASA, that have active pro grams that either contribute directly or indirectly to these areas. This mechanism should include the development of a strategic implementation plan that is updated at least every 3 years, and includes a process for external independent advisory input. This plan should include a description of the responsibilities of the various Agency roles in Earth observations, recommended cost-sharing and procurement arrangements between Agencies and other entities, including international arrangements, and a plan for ensuring the provision of sustained, long-term space-based climate observations. The Director shall provide a report to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act on the implementation plan for this mechanism.

SEC. 703. TRANSITIONING EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS.

The Administrator shall coordinate with the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a formal mechanism that plans, coordinates, and supports the transitioning of NASA research findings, assets, and capabilities to NOAA operations. In defining this mechanism, NASA should consider the establishment of a formal or informal Interagency Transition Office. NASA shall provide an implementation plan for this mechanism to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 704. DECADAL SURVEY MISSIONS IMPLEMENTATION FOR EARTH OBSERVATION.

The Administrator shall undertake to implement, as appropriate, missions identified in the National Research Council’s Earth Science Decadal Survey within the scope of the funds authorized for the Earth Science Mission Directorate.

SEC. 705. EXPANSION OF EARTH SCIENCE APPLICATIONS.

It is the sense of the Congress that the role of NASA in Earth Science applications shall be expanded with State and local governments, tribal governments, academia, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and international partners. NASA’s Earth science data can increasingly aid efforts to improve the human condition and provide greater security.

SEC. 707. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON NPOESS FOLLOW-ON PROGRAM.

It is the Sense of the Congress that—

(1) polar orbiting satellites are vital for weather prediction, climate and environmental monitoring, national security, emergency response, and climate research;

(2) the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System has suffered from years of steadily rising cost estimates and schedule delays and an independent review team recommended that the System be restructured to improve the probability of success and protect the continuity of weather and climate data;

(3) the Congress supports the decision made by OSTP in February, 2010, to restructure the program to minimize schedule slips and cost over runs, clarify the responsibilities and accountability of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense, and retain necessary coordination across civil and defense weather and climate programs;

(4) the Congress encourages the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense to maximize the use of assets from the NPOESS program as they establish the NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Weather Satellite System;

(5) the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense should structure their programs in order to maintain satellite data continuity for the Nation’s weather and climate requirements; and

(6) the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense should provide immediate notification to the Congress of any impediments that may require Congressional intervention in order for the agencies to meet launch readiness dates, together with any recommended actions.

SEC. 805. DECADAL RESULTS.

NASA shall take into account the current decadal surveys from the National Academies’ Space Studies Board when submitting the President’s budget request to the Congress.

SEC. 809. SPACE WEATHER.

(a) FINDINGS.—The Congress finds the following:

(1) Space weather events pose a significant threat to modern technological systems.

(2) The effects of severe space weather events on the electric power grid, telecommunications and entertainment satellites, airline communications during polar routes, and space-based position, navigation and timing systems could have significant societal, economic, national security, and health impacts.

(3) Earth and Space Observing satellites, such as the Advanced Composition Explorer, Geo-stationary Operational Environmental Satellites, Polar Operational Environmental Satellites, and Defense Meteorological Satellites, provide crucial data necessary to predict space weather events.

(b) ACTION REQUIRED.—OSTP shall—

(1) improve the Nation’s ability to prepare, avoid, mitigate, respond to, and recover from potentially devastating impacts of space weather events;

(2) coordinate the operational activities of the National Space Weather Program Council members, including the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency; and (3) submit a report to the appropriate committees of Congress within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act that—

(A) details the current data sources, both space- and ground-based, that are necessary for space weather forecasting; and

(B) details the space- and ground-based systems that will be required to gather data necessary for space weather forecasting for the next 10 years.

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