National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Areas of Global Change Research. NASA research efforts in global change involve space-based studies of the Earth as an integrated system, including research and satellite programs studying atmospheric ozone, ocean surface winds, tropical precipitation, and the Earth's upper atmosphere. The space-based activity complements ongoing ground-based research programs in the observation, understanding, and modeling of radiation, climate dynamics, and hydrology; ecosystem dynamics and biogeochemical cycles; atmospheric chemistry; solid Earth science; and the processing, archiving, retrieval, dissemination, and use of global change data. The focus is Earth system science, which involves interdisciplinary research and coupled modeling. Development of algorithms for retrieval of the information content of space- based, remotely sensed observations is carried out as part of the flight mission.

FY98 Program Highlights. The overall goal of the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) program is to understand the Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. To preserve and improve the Earth's environment for future generations, policies and decisions worldwide should have the strongest possible scientific basis. The vantage point of space provides information that is obtainable in no other way about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota, as well as the impact of humans on the Earth system.

The science and observations of NASA's MTPE program are becoming increasingly important as the demand for economic progress by the growing global population drives policies that encourage natural resource depletion and rapidly increasing emissions of environmental pollutants. In addition, remote sensing has the potential to improve dramatically crop and forest yield predictions, seasonal and interannual climate forecasts, urban planning, mineral exploration, and many other activities of socio-economic importance. In concert with the global change research community, the MTPE program is utilizing space to lead the development of knowledge required to support the complex national and international policy decisions that lie ahead.

In order to make it more readily understandable, this edition of Our Changing Planet  divides the MTPE budget into two main components: (1) Scientific research costs; and (2) the costs associated with satellite, aircraft, and balloon measurements, operations and data processing and distribution (including mission costs such as launch, flight, instrument and technology development, fabrication assembly, integration, and testing, as well as mission operation support).

NASA Program Title FY96 FY97 FY98
MTPE Airborne Science Program 27.3 19.0 18.7
MTPE Applications Research Program 1.0 2.0 2.0
MTPE Atmospheric Chemical Modeling 6.1 6.5 6.5
MTPE Atmospheric Dynamics and Remote Sensing 5.5 5.3 5.3
MTPE Biological Oceanography 5.0 6.4 6.4
MTPE Ecological Processes 16.1 15.8 15.8
MTPE EOS Science 56.5 37.5 56.4
MTPE Geodynamics and Geopotential Fields 17.4 13.9 13.9
MTPE Geology 4.8 4.3 4.3
MTPE Global Data Integration and Validation 2.4 2.4 2.4
MTPE Global Modeling and Analysis Program 4.4 4.6 4.6
MTPE GLOBE 5.1 5.0 5.0
MTPE Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis 28.9 10.4 17.9
MTPE Land Cover and Use Change 1.4 6.0 5.0
MTPE Land Surface Hydrology 2.7 2.9 2.9
MTPE Mission Analysis Program 28.5 31.2 30.7
MTPE Natural Hazards Program 0.3 3.8 3.8
MTPE Ocean Color Data Purchase/SeaWiFS 2.3 5.1 5.1
MTPE Pathfinder Science Studies 6.3 6.6 7.0
MTPE Physical Oceanography and Ocean Modeling 7.2 7.4 7.4
MTPE Polar Programs 5.1 4.5 4.5
MTPE Radiation Science Program 6.5 6.6 6.6
MTPE Stratospheric Chemistry 17.3 17.3 17.3
MTPE Tropical Rainfall Measurement Science 6.1 6.1 0.0
MTPE Tropospheric Chemistry 6.8 7.8 8.8
MTPE Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle Science 0.0 2.0 5.5
NASA Global Change Science Program 271.0 240.4 263.8
MTPE Advanced Geostationary Studies 0.0 1.0 3.0
MTPE Commercial Remote Sensing 17.0 16.0 16.0
MTPE Construction of Facilities 17.0 0.0 0.0
MTPE Data Purchase 0.0 50.0 0.0
MTPE Earth Systems Science Pathfinder 1.0 19.4 29.4
MTPE EOS Data and Information Systems 240.9 248.0 237.7
MTPE EOS Flight Development 408.5 427.4 535.9
MTPE EOS Special Spacecraft 60.5 83.1 91.7
MTPE HPCC Earth Remote Sensing 26.1 28.3 18.3
MTPE Information Systems 9.6 8.5 4.3
MTPE LANDSAT 85.2 76.2 52.1
MTPE Launch Services 107.1 84.7 121.9
MTPE Lewis & Clark Land Imaging Spacecraft 42.6 5.0 5.0
MTPE Light SAR 0.0 12.0 0.0
MTPE Mission Operations 37.8 41.2 31.6
MTPE NASA Scatterometer 3.2 0.0 0.0
MTPE Payloads and Instrument Development 4.8 2.1 0.6
MTPE Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer 3.0 1.0 5.7
MTPE Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission 25.5 17.7 0.0
NASA Global Change Hardware Development 1089.9 1121.6 1153.2
Total 1360.8 1362.0
President's Request 1341.1 1402.1 1417.0

Scientific Research Costs :  The scientific research component of the MTPE budget is supported by an integrated science plan that relates research plans to space observations, and fully integrates the Earth Observing System (EOS) and non-EOS science. EOS is a program of multiple spacecraft and interdisciplinary science investigations designed to provide a 15- year data set of key parameters needed in order to understand global climate change. The major themes of NASA's MTPE Science Research Plan are consistent with the USGCRP. They are Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Research, Seasonal to Interannual Climate Variability and Prediction, Natural Hazards Research and Applications, Long-Term Climate-Natural Variability and Change Research, and Atmospheric Ozone Research.

Against the backdrop of the overall MTPE effort to better understand the state and health of the Earth's life-support systems, these five research focus areas target specific research issues important to national and international environmental and economic security. For example, an important priority is to provide an accurate assessment of the extent and health of the world's forests, grasslands, and agricultural resources. In a time of rapid, and often unrecorded, land-use change, observations from space are the only source of objective information on the human use of land. A closely related priority is to improve understanding and prediction of seasonal to interannual climate variation. Reducing uncertainties in climate predictions out to a season or a year in advance can help improve dramatically the efficiency of water use for agriculture and hydropower, as well as improve contingency planning for energy demand and in other economic sectors.

In addition, the MTPE natural hazards research priority emphasizes the use of remote-sensing observations for the characterization and mitigation of drought and flood impacts. There is increasing evidence that predictions of extreme weather events can be improved by understanding their links to interannual climate phenomena, such as the El Niño events. The MTPE Science Plan also calls for special attention to measuring and modeling the relative influence of forcing factors in long-term climate change, including clouds, aerosols, and greenhouse gases, in order to improve the understanding and prediction of climate on time scales of decades to centuries. A continuing priority area for MTPE is to understand the causes and consequences of changes in atmospheric ozone. Research to resolve questions related to stratospheric ozone depletion continues to make great progress, and increased emphasis is now being focused on the changing composition of the lower atmosphere, which is especially sensitive to the unprecedented growth of pollutant emissions in East Asia and other rapidly developing regions.

Costs Associated with Satellite, Aircraft, and Balloon Measurements Operations and Data Processing and Distribution :  The Earth Observing System is a program of multiple spacecraft (the AM, PM, and CHEM series, Landsat 7, and others) and interdisciplinary science investigations to provide a 15-year data set of key parameters needed to gain a fuller understanding of global climate change. The first EOS satellite launches begin in 1998.

Preceding EOS are a number of individual satellite and Shuttle- based missions which are helping to reveal the basic processes of atmospheric chemistry (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite -- UARS/1991), ozone distribution and depletion (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer -- TOMS/1978, 1991, 1996, and 2000), ocean topography and circulation (TOPEX/Poseidon/1992), ocean winds (NASA Scatterometer -- NSCAT/1996), and global tropical precipitation (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission -- TRMM/1997), among others. These provide the scientific and technological foundation on which EOS builds.

Complementing EOS will be a series of small, rapid-development Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) missions to study emerging science questions and make innovative measurements in parallel with the 15-year mission of EOS. The first ESSP mission should be ready for launch in 2000. In addition, the New Millennium Program (NMP) provides for the infusion of innovative new technologies into the MTPE program with an initial focus on the second and third series' of EOS measurements, and will emphasize fast-track development and low-cost demonstration missions. These technologies, which will lead to the development of smaller and lighter-weight instruments, will reduce annual program expenditures in the post-FY2000 time frame. ESSP will feature low life-cycle costs, peer-reviewed science, and missions based on best science value.

The FY98 budget request includes three new initiatives which will further contribute to a robust science program and to technology infusion. These initiatives include an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) science research program, an instrument incubator, and a study effort to explore global change measurements which might best be made from geostationary orbit.

MTPE is committed to continue to look for ways to reduce near- term funding requirements. The Chemistry-1, Laser Altimetry, and AM-2 missions are all under study to determine whether cost savings can be achieved through the use of new approaches to these missions, such as the utilization of smaller spacecraft.

Data from MTPE missions, both current and future, are captured, processed into useful data products, and broadly distributed by the EOS Data and Information System (EOSDIS). EOSDIS will ensure that data from these diverse missions will remain available in active archives for use by current and future scientists. Since these data are useful beyond the Earth system science research community, EOSDIS will be accessible to environmental decisionmakers, resource managers, commercial firms, social scientists and the general academic community, educators, state and local government -- anyone who wants the information. Following the recommendation of the National Research Council, MTPE is exploring the creation of a federation of Earth science information partners in academia, industry, and government to broaden the participation in the creation and distribution of EOSDIS information products.

Related Research. NASA includes all research in support of global change within the focused research program.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, National Aeronautics and Space Administration USGCRP activities are funded under the NASA section of Title III-Independent Agencies, within the Science, Aeronautics, and Technology account. Within this account, Appropriations Committee reports specify funding for the Mission to Planet Earth program, which is the NASA contribution to the USGCRP.