Bush Budget Proposes $74 Million In FY09 To Replace NPOESS Sensors Deleted In Cost Woes
Bush Also Proposes $103 Million In Fiscal 2009, Total $910 Million In Fiscal 2009-13, For Space Climate Research On Seven Future Satellites Now In Planning, Development
Mikulski Provides Fiscal 2008 Funds For Ice Sheet Studies From Satellite Observations
President Bush will add $74 million to his budget plan for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, to help replace sensors that were removed in 2006 from the planned National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
The money will be placed in the Department of Commerce budget, in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) section, OSTP said.
Also, the administration seeks seek $103 million in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, and a total $910 million in fiscal 2009-13, to finance new space research on climate change, as part of the budget request for NASA that will be performed by seven new satellites already in planning or development.
Those funds are included in Bush’s federal budget proposal for fiscal 2009 that he is sending to Congress today for its review and approval in coming months.
The sensors that measure climate conditions and climate changes are vital to assure continuity of data, according to OSTP. Many lawmakers on key committees in Congress have voiced concern that the government will lose its capacity to monitor global climate change because the sensors were removed from NPOESS in response to cost overruns.
Separately, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) said that efforts to monitor Earth climate conditions also will be boosted when the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center monitors "alarming changes in the Greenland ice sheet," using $40 million that she added to the NASA budget in the current fiscal 2008.
Mikulski chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee commerce, justice, science and related agencies subcommittee.
There are many participants in the NPOESS program: The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to use NPOESS satellites for military purposes, and the Commerce Department-NOAA will use them for weather/climate observation, with NASA handling the launch/operation work.
The 2006 downsizing of the NPOESS program in response to significant cost overruns led to the removal, or de-manifesting, of several planned sensors that would have sustained key, long-standing climate measurements.
Since this decision, OSTP and the Office of Management and Budget worked with NASA and NOAA to understand implications of losing these climate sensors for climate and ocean research activities, and to identify options for retaining the key measurement capabilities from this group of planned sensors.
As a result of these assessments and information provided in the National Research Council’s (NRC) recent Decadal Survey on Earth sciences, the administration concluded that the highest near-term priorities are to sustain the datasets from three key climate measurement capabilities:
- Total solar irradiance measured by the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS)
- Earth radiation budget data from the Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System sensor, or CERES
- Ozone vertical profile data (from the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite Limb sensor, or OMPS-Limb).
The TSIS and CERES measurements contribute to long term climate records that are vital to discriminating between natural and human causes of climate change and to monitoring long-term energy shifts relating to climate change.
Because these sensors require on-orbit overlap between successive satellites for proper instrument calibration, a gap in coverage between existing and new sensors would create problematic breaks in existing multi-decadal data records that in turn could harm ongoing research. The OMPS-Limb data are important for monitoring ozone structure and depletion vertically in the atmosphere, and thus to understanding the ozone recovery process and related phenomena controlled by climate change.
So the administration developed steps to preclude such data gaps by housing these three sensors on other available satellites, paid for by the $74 million for NOAA.
Specifically, a CERES instrument will be flown on the NASA NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, set to launch in 2010, while another CERES instrument will be built for the first NPOESS satellite that will launch in 2013 under current plans.
As for TSIS, the funds will support instrument development and ongoing analyses to identify a suitable satellite platform for hosting this sensor, as well as beginning the necessary integration work for this effort.
The Administration also found fiscal 2008 funds needed to execute this plan, and previously provided funding in 2007 to host the OMPS-Limb sensor on the NPP spacecraft, according to OSTP.
Satellite-based observations of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces have proven critical to characterizing the impacts of natural and human-induced climate change, improving weather forecasts, predicting and responding to natural disasters, and managing natural resources.
Given the scientific importance of such observations, the NRC recommended several space-based Earth observations missions in its recent Decadal Survey on Earth sciences and applications.
So Bush is proposing the $103 million in his fiscal 2009 budget plan, and $910 million over five years, to develop those missions for Earth science research from space.
This new series of satellites will study characteristics such as polar ice sheet trends, coastal sea levels, soil moisture, cloud and aerosol properties, and the carbon cycle to understand and forecast climate change, weather and natural disasters.
This new initiative will build on ongoing NASA activities in the Earth sciences arena, including funding continued operations for the fourteen NASA Earth science missions currently in orbit and the remaining work necessary to launch seven additional missions already in development or formulation.
The tri-agency NPOESS program was established in 1994 to integrate the polar weather forecasting capabilities developed by DOD and Commerce into one cost-effective, next- generation program that would support both civil and military operational weather requirements.
Funding for NPOESS is divided equally between DOD and Commerce, while NASA is responsible for developing new technologies for the effort. Over time, several climate and space environment capabilities also were incorporated into the basic program, making NPOESS important both for operational weather forecasting as well as climate, oceans, and space weather research.
But in 2006, the agencies responded to cost overruns by restructuring NPOESS to reduce program risk and ensure continuity in operational terrestrial weather forecasting capabilities, which was the original focus for the program. That led to removal of several climate and space weather sensors.