(Earth Science) Senate Rpt.107-222 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill 2003

Status Report From: Senate Appropriations Committee
Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2002


Earth Science

The activities of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise seek to understand the total Earth system and the effects of humans on the global environment. This pioneering program of studying global climate change is developing many of the capabilities that will be needed for long-term environment and climate monitoring and prediction. Governments around the world need information based on the strongest possible scientific understanding. The unique vantage-point of space provides information about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota as a global system, which is available in no other way. In concert with the global research community, the Earth Science Enterprise is developing the understanding needed to support the complex environmental policy decisions that lie ahead.

However, the Committee is concerned about the potential for the administration to diminish NASA's pre-eminent role in earth science and earth science applications. As the Committee noted during its fiscal year 2003 hearings, the Agency's development and launch of a series of major earth science missions combined with a successful ground system that is processing and distributing the largest volumes of data ever received by civilian users from space are among NASA highest technological and scientific achievements. The Committee wishes to affirm its unequivocal support for expanding NASA's role in earth science and earth science applications.

Within the applications program, the Committee believes that the Agency's approach needs more refinement and integration of emerging programs, like Synergy, the Regional Earth Science Applications Centers (RESACs), the Earth Science Information Partnerships (ESIPS) and the considerable in-house scientific capability at the NASA Centers. Such integration should not disrupt the existing program structure in 2003, but should plan for an evolutionary approach in fiscal year 2004. The Committee is pleased with efforts to integrate key Federal agency requirements as objectives of the applications program and expects a progress report on these efforts in the operating plan.

The Committee strongly supports the development of remote sensing research and technology as a collaboration and partnership between NASA, universities and the private sector. The Committee commends both SSC and Goddard for their investment and commitment to the commercial aspects of remote sensing research and technology. There already have been significant advances made with regard to remote sensing applications in agriculture, flood mapping, environmental protection, urban planning, firefighting and land use issues. The Committee urges both Goddard and SSC to work together to continue to develop those remote sensing research and technology projects that have the strongest potential for commercial applications.

In keeping with this emphasis, the Committee makes the following adjustments to the budget request:

An increase of $25,000,000 for EOSDIS for the Synergy Program at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

An increase of $20,000,000 for pre-formulation studies. The additional funding provided for this program is to be used to continue pre-formulation studies for solar irradiance, total column ozone and ocean vector winds.

An increase of $2,500,000 to the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest Regional Collaboratory to develop applications and end-uses for earth science data in the Northwest.

An increase of $750,000 for Utah State University for landscape analysis, planning and monitoring at the Intermountain Region Digital Image Archive and Processing Center.

An increase of $2,000,000 for the University of Montana for an International Earth Observing System Natural Resource Training Center.

An increase of $2,000,000 for joint weather and ocean research at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Alaska.

An increase of $1,500,000 for the University of Louisville for the Bio-MEMS Microtechnology Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

An increase of $2,000,000 for the University of New Mexico for the development of the Center for Rapid Environmental Assessment and Terrain Evaluation (Create) which would provide for the rapid acquisition, processing and dissemination of environmental data.

An increase of $1,500,000 for George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia for the Mid-Atlantic Geospatial Information Consortium.

A decrease of $3,400,000 from the flight projects building at JPL. The Committee makes this reduction without prejudice in light of the Agency's decision to postpone construction in fiscal year 2002.

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