« AnteriorContinuar »
With the creation of the Environmental Science Services Administration
in 1965, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, the meteorological satellite system has expanded to an operational environmental satellite system. It now provides support to various marine, hydrologic and solar monitoring activities of NOAA and other agencies, in addition to weather warning and forecasting.
In addition, we provide instantaneous earth images with 4 km resolution to weather forecasters around the world via a service called Automatic Pic
ture Transmission (APT. Several times cach day, anywhere in the world, a relatively simple, inexpensive receiving station can be used to obtain images directly from the satellite as it passes overhead, covering an area in excess of 3 million square kilometers surrounding the station. This popular service is used by more then 500 observing stations operating in over 70 countries around the globe. It is especially valuable in developing countries and in isolated locations where conventional weather observations are sparse. Visible and infrared images of 1 km resolution also are broadcast throughout the world from the NOAA satellites. Because of the higher resolution, the ground stations cost an order of magnitude more than those for APT, but the frequency and quality of the images have wider applicability to hydrology, marine activities and agriculture, as well as weather fore
What of the future? The NOAA program got its start right after the launch of the first sputnik when this country was pressing to be first in space. The country was challenged. Our citizens supported the goal of placing a man on the moon, and the environmental satellite program flourished in parallel. We got to the moon; we are, apparently, first in space.
I expect continued, steady progress in improving the application
of space technology to Earth environmental observations. Here, NASA's development programs are vital precursors to future improvements in NOAA's operational systems.
In the past, NASA's TIROS and Nimbus satellites led to our current series of NOAA satellites in polar orbit. NASA will soon launch TIROS-N, the prototype of our third generation operational satellite in polar orbit. In a similar manner, NASA's Applications Technology Satellites (ATS) and Synchronous Meteorological Satellites (SMS) were the precursors of NOAA's current Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) operating over the equator at 75°W and 135°W longitude, providing continuous coverage of the Western Hemisphere.
The TIROS-N and GOES series of operational satellites now on order are expected to provide continuous coverage until at least 1985.
Improvements to be introduced at that time will be based on the results of NASA
research and development programs, and the outcome of program priority evaluation in light of incremental costs versus probable value to the nation. The results of this process are more difficult to forecast than However, I think the technology is emerging, and a
need exists, for important new satellite monitoring of:
The ocean surface in support of a rapidly growing variety of
The ocean and atmosphere to detect changes in the climate and
the effects of man's activities. Nimbus G and the Earth
Radiation Budget Satellite System, as well as the NOAA
operational satellites, are important here.
The earth's surface (e.g. soil moisture and temperature,
radiation fluxes, rainfall and snow mount) for use in agri-
- Atmospheric structure on a short time and space scale to improve forecasting of severe storms (e.g., thunderstorms, hail,
NASA is developing an atmospheric sounder which
will fly on one of NOAA's GOES satellites about 1980 to demon
strate this capability for the first time.
In many cases, these new developments can be incorporated in the NOAA operational satellite system in an evolutionary way. This is the case where the technological perturbation is relatively small and low in cost and the value to the nation is defined adequately. In some other cases additional, new spacecraft may be required. Here it may be difficult to demonstrate the incremental value without a new phase of activity which I call "operational demonstration".
After the initial development and test of extensive and complex new technical capability, the operational utility may be promising but not adequately developed and demonstrated. Experience has shown that unless the user community can be identified clearly and be fully involved at this state, future progress in applying the technology will be very slow.
If one or a few Federal user agencies can be identified for a given applications area (e.g., NOAA for oceans and atmosphere), they can work with NASA in formulating and conducting the operational demonstration. NASA would be concerned primarily with the space segment and the user agencies with the ground segment; each agency should fund its part of the joint program.
To be successful, the operational demonstration phase must be configured and maintained just as though it was fully operational, including all phases through to service to the end-users. essential to have the total involvement of key user agencies in the operational demonstration.
That is why it is
The period of the operational demonstration must be long enough to "work out the bugs", establish the routine use of products in the user community, provide for evaluation of utility, and reach a governmental decision to continue, modify or terminate the new capability.
indicates that the minimum time period would be five years, where the user interfaces are well established and simple. The decision point must be early enough in the operational demonstration that the transition to full operational status can be made without interruption.
The NOAA-NASA procedure, wherein NASA serves as NOAA's "prime contractor" for operational spacecraft and launchings in accordance with system specifications provided by NOAA and NOAA operates the total system, may be a useful example to follow when it is finally decided to proceed with the fully operational phase. At this stage, the key user agency provides funds to NASA for the operational spacecraft and launching.