FY 2002 Earth Science Enterprise White Paper

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, April 9, 2001

Office of Earth Science Enterprise (Code Y)
Associate Administrator: Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar

Public Affairs Contact: David E. Steitz, 202/358-1730

The total Fiscal Year 2002 Appropriations budget request for the Office of Earth Science is $1,515 million; this is comprised of $1,278 million of formerly Science, Aeronautics, and Technology Appropriation funding and $237 million of formerly Mission Support Appropriation funding.


NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) carries out its mission through three broad goals:

  1. Science: Observe, understand, and model the Earth system to learn how it is changing, and the consequences for life on Earth;

  2. Applications: Expand and accelerate the realization of economic and societal benefits from Earth science, information and technology;

  3. Technology: Develop and adopt advanced technologies to enable mission success and serve national priorities. These goals are articulated in the Earth Science Enterprise Strategic Plan, available at:

NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), a leading government research and development effort, is working to improve scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced changes. This knowledge will enhance ability to predict climate change, better understand variant weather patterns, and help mitigate future natural hazards. NASA brings a unique vantagepoint from space, allowing global views of Earth system change, and provides objective scientific information, via observation, research, modeling and applications demonstration, to inform policy- and decision-makers in both the public and private sectors.

NASA is currently deploying the first series of Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites that will concurrently observe the major interactions of the land, oceans, atmosphere, ice and life that comprise the Earth system. The work done in NASA's Earth Science Enterprise has a direct and indirect impact on everything from long-term climate forecasting to disaster mitigation, fire prevention, environmental monitoring, disease prevention, increased agricultural productivity, and improved urban and suburban planning.

The Earth Science Enterprise provides scientific answers to the fundamental question: How is the Earth changing, and what are the consequences for life on Earth?

Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2002 budget request include:


This portion of the Enterprise comprises EOS ($372 million) and Earth Explorers ($85 million) satellite missions, information systems, and operations. The EOS and Earth Explorers programs consist of multiple spacecraft designed to improve our understanding of global climate change.

EOS and related missions in operation, development or preparation for launch through 2003 are:

  • QuikTOMS (2001) - is studying atmospheric ozone and aerosols
  • SAGE III (2001) - will study stratospheric aerosols and gases
  • Jason (2001) - will study ocean topography as a successor to the successful TOPEX/Poseidon mission, currently underway
  • Aqua (2001) - will study atmospheric temperature and humidity, clouds, sea-surface temperature, and the biosphere
  • GRACE (2001) - will observe time variations in Earth's gravity field
  • ICEsat (2001/02) - will examine ice-sheet topography
  • SORCE (2002) - will explore solar irradiance, complementing ACRIMSAT, now in orbit
  • SeaWinds (2002) - an instrument on Japan's ADEOS II satellite, will examine ocean winds as the successor to the ongoing QuikSCAT
  • Vegetation Canopy Lidar (TBD) - will study forest canopy height
  • Aura (2003) - will explore upper and lower atmospheric chemistry
  • Cloudsat (2003) - will provide three-dimensional cloud profiles
  • PICASSO-CENA (TBD) - will develop three-dimensional aerosol profiles

The EOS Data Information System (EOSDIS) ($253 million) has been serving thousands of government and private sector users by providing available data and information from NASA-sponsored programs since September 1995. EOSDIS will operate the EOS spacecraft, and acquire and distribute the basic data they gather. This will lay the groundwork for both the government and its commercial and academic partners to generate the higher-level data products that will make the measurements more easily understandable and usable by researchers, educators, policy-makers, and the public.

The Mission Operations Program ($52 million) acquires, processes and archives long-term data sets and validated data products. Funding provides for operating ongoing spacecraft missions and processing of acquired data.

Research and Technology -- $517 million

The Earth Science Program science research effort ($357 million) is designed to look into the five fundamental questions below that tie back into the overarching question being asked about the global environment: How is the Earth system changing, and what are the consequences for life on Earth?

  • How is the global Earth system changing?
  • What are the primary causes of change in the Earth system?
  • How does the Earth system respond to natural and human-induced changes?
  • What are the consequences of changes in the Earth system for human civilization?
  • How can we predict future changes in the Earth system?

Through long-term examination of the global environment, NASA hopes to provide decision-makers with insight into the answers to these questions, based upon sound science.

In addition to ensuring a robust science program, this budget contains a vigorous Technology Infusion program ($96 million) that supports development of key technologies for future science missions. In addition to the baseline technology program, an Advanced Technology Initiative will identify and invest in critical instrument, spacecraft and information system technologies.

ESE's technology strategy seeks to leverage the entire range of technology development programs offering benefits in cost, performance and timeliness of future Earth science process and monitoring campaigns. ESE's strategy is to establish strong links with other government programs to maximize mutual benefit from using open competitions for ESE-sponsored technology programs to attract the best ideas and capabilities from the broad technology community, including industry and academia.

Technology investments will be made in the following areas:

  • Advanced instrument and measurement technologies for new and/or lower-cost scientific investigations into the global environment;
  • Cutting-edge technologies, processes, techniques and engineering capabilities that reduce development and operations costs and mission risk, and support rapid implementation of productive, economical and timely missions;
  • Advanced end-to-end mission-information system technologies: technologies affecting the data flow from origination at the instrument detector through data archiving, for collecting and disseminating information about the Earth system, and enabling the productive use of Enterprise science and technology in the public and private sectors.

NASA celebrated a major milestone in 2000 with the launch of the EO-1 spacecraft, a technology development test-bed. The spacecraft, which is testing new technologies to be used in future Landsat continuity missions, carries Earth-observing instruments that are a fraction of the size and were built at a fraction of the cost of previous remote sensing instruments.

The Applications, Education and Outreach ($63 million) will expand scientific knowledge of the Earth which will result in practical applications beneficial to all Americans. Examples of these applications may include: weather and hydrologic forecasts; prediction of seasonal or longer-range climate changes; the prediction of impacts of environmental changes on fisheries, agriculture and water resources; global air quality forecasts; and natural hazards risk assessments. NASA's ESE has a key role in demonstrating these potential applications.

NASA's emphasis is on viable applications, commercial and education programs that demonstrate new remote-sensing data products for industry and regional and local decision makers. The focus is on the dissemination of information to non-traditional Earth science customers, such as the states, counties and regional managers and decision-makers. Eventually NASA hopes that demonstration of these new concepts will allow products to reach a much broader user base - every state in America.

ESE also is working to train the next generation of Earth scientists and to enable K-16 teachers to incorporate remote sensing information into their science curricula. This interagency research and education program is producing a better understanding of global environmental change while helping all students reach higher levels of achievement in science and mathematics.

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