|News Update|| |
New NASA Earth System Observatory
NASA will design a new set of Earth-focused missions to provide key information to guide efforts related to climate change, disaster mitigation, fighting forest fires, and improving real-time agricultural processes. With the Earth System Observatory, each satellite will be uniquely designed to complement the others, working in tandem to create a 3D, holistic view of Earth, from bedrock to atmosphere.
The observatory follows recommendations from the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which lays out ambitious but critically necessary research and observation guidance.
Areas of focus for the observatory include:
- Aerosols: Answering the critical question of how aerosols affect the global energy balance, a key source of uncertainty in predicting climate change.
- Cloud, Convection, and Precipitation: Tackling the largest sources of uncertainty in future projections of climate change, air quality forecasting, and prediction of severe weather.
- Mass Change: Providing drought assessment and forecasting, associated planning for water use for agriculture, as well as supporting natural hazard response.
- Surface Biology and Geology: Understanding climate changes that impact food and agriculture, habitation, and natural resources, by answering open questions about the fluxes of carbon, water, nutrients, and energy within and between ecosystems and the atmosphere, the ocean, and the Earth.
- Surface Deformation and Change: Quantifying models of sea-level and landscape change driven by climate change, hazard forecasts, and disaster impact assessments, including dynamics of earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, glaciers, groundwater, and Earth’s interior.
NASA is currently initiating the formulation phase for the observatory. Among its first integrated parts is NASA’s partnership with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which brings together two different kinds of radar systems that can measure changes in Earth’s surface less than a half-inch. This capability will be utilized in one of the observatory’s first missions intended as a pathfinder, called NISAR (NASA-ISRO synthetic aperture radar). This mission will measure some of the planet’s most complex processes such as ice-sheet collapse and natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides. NISAR can assist planners and decision makers with managing both hazards and natural resources in the future.
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