Organization: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Research Title: Mission Operations and Data Analysis (MO&DA)

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 29.2
FY95 34.6
FY96 30.5

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%)
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change (100%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Observation (80%); Data Management (20%)

Organizational Components:
Operations, Data and Information Systems Division
Office of Mission To Planet Earth Code YD
Washington, DC 20546

Point of Contact:
Alex Tuyahov
Phone: 202-358-0255

Research Objective: The objective of the Mission Operations and Data Analysis program is to acquire, process, and archive long-term data sets and data products produced by spaceborne missions (which are funded by other programs until they are launched). These data support research in local, regional, and global change in atmospheric ozone and trace chemical species, the Earth's radiation budget, aerosols, sea ice, land surface properties, and ocean circulation and biology.

Research Description:
SAM-II and SAGE-2 : The Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement II (SAM-II) instrument on the Nimbus-7 satellite will conclude its measurements in December, 1993, having collected a 15-year data set on atmospheric aerosols (and stratospheric clouds) in Earth's polar regions. Data from the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE-II), on NASA's Earth Radiation Budget Spacecraft (ERBS), continue to provide vertical profiles of aerosols, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and water vapor over Earth's tropical and mid latitude regions, as they have since ERBS launch in 1984.

The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) : is composed of three identical instrument packages flying on NOAA-9, NOAA-10, and NASA's ERBS. These instruments have provided data illuminating the temporal and spatial variation in the earth's radiation budget, which drive the Earth's climate, since the launch of ERBS in 1984. Data from the Earth Radiation budget (ERB) instrument on Nimbus-7, and from the ERBE instruments, provide the only continuous data set on total solar irradiance ("solar constant") and its temporal variation stretching from 1978 to the present. NOAA-9 and ERBS operations continue to support ERBE non-scanner measurements. ERB measurements onboard Nimbus 7 concluded in December 1993 due to the deterioration of the satellite's orbital geometry. ERBE non-scanner measurements onboard NOAA 10 were deactivated in November 1994 due to the replacement of NOAA 10 by NOAA 14.

ASF : SAR data transmitted from ESA's ERS-1 spacecraft is acquired, processed, and archived by NASA's Alaska SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) Facility (ASF), based at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. ASF is doing the same with SAR data from Japan's ERS, and is planning to support ESA's ERS-2, and Canada's RadarSat spacecraft when they become operational. These data provide important information on the properties and dynamics of sea ice and other land and sea processes in the polar regions.

SIR-C : The Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) builds upon the heritage of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) missions Seasat SAR (1978), SIR-A (1981) and SIR-B (1984) in the use of SAR technology to study earth science. Because of SAR's ability to image the earth through cloud cover, sensitivity to surface roughness, soil moisture, and ice-water contrast, it is useful in studies of geological features. canopy morphology, sea ice dynamics, and ocean surface features. Two successful SIR-C shuttle fights provided a unique global view of the Earth's ocean and land surface and subsurface processes, landcover, biomass, topographic change, research in geology, hydrology, and ecology.

Program Interfaces:
National and international connections are a natural part of this program. There are ongoing interagency connections with NOAA and international agreements with ESA, Japan, and Canada. International agreements provide that the Alaska SAR Facility will acquire SAR data from satellites flown by ESA (the European Space Agency), Japan, and Canada. SIR-C is a joint mission with a European consortium consisting of the DLR (Germany) and ASI (Italy); the consortium is referred to as X-SAR in reference to the X-band radar sensor they are contributing to the SIR-C/X-SAR experiment. Nationally, the SIR-C Science Team includes members representing the USGS and USDA.

Program Milestones:
These Operations are on going

Policy Payoffs:
Remote sensing from space provides the global, repeatable, and continuous observations of processes needed to understand the Earth system as a whole. This better understanding includes causes of local, regional, and global change; validation of assumptions relating to global models; improved methodologies; and improved data. In addition to understanding global interactive processes, remote sensing data has day-to-day uses, for example: Remotely sensed data provides weather and water information critical to health and safety planning of local and regional governments. Understanding how the surface and underground water processes are coupled with atmospheric processes is critical to the agricultural sector of the regional economy. One city has discovered millions of dollars in annual savings by integrating NASA remote sensing technologies into the City's Geographic Information System. Costs associated with planning, zoning, mapping and compliance with environmental regulation have all been reduced. With the help of remote sensing, drainage planning cost for the city have been reduced by an estimated 50 percent. Rapidly growing cities need operational data for effective day-to-day management of local resources. In the long term, local leaders need assistance in making decisions in the context of changing global environment. Satellite imagery technology as a tool for foresters to manage and monitor the diverse forested landscapes. Broad landscape views provided from space allow resource managers to more accurately and cost effectively describe and quantify the numerous forest stand types as well as evaluate the current conditions of many other forest and watershed resources. The use of satellite imagery greatly reduces the biases of other traditional methods of classification requiring intensive ground efforts. Consistent, unbiased satellite images of actual vegetation conditions are extremely important in addressing today's complex resource management activities and providing meaningful answers to the questions raised in management practices and its effect on the environment.