U.S. National Research Council releases report on remote sensing

The National Research Council has released its report on the state of US Earth Observation satellite operations, which discusses the 29 current missions, including Landsat, and offers recommendations for continuing US earth monitoring capabilities into the next decade at least. I have only read the executive summary so far, but it paints a disturbing picture:

“As documented in this report, the United States’ extraordinary foundation of global observations is at great risk. Between 2006 and the end of the decade, the number of operating missions will decrease dramatically and the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA spacecraft, most of which are well past their normal lifetimes, will decrease by some 40 percent. Furthermore, the replacement sensors to be flown on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), are generally less capable than their Earth Observing System (EOS) counterparts. Among the many measurements expected to cease over the next few years,…include total solar irradiance and Earth radiation, vector sea surface winds, limb sounding of ozone profiles, and temperature and water vapor soundings from geostationary and polar orbits.”

You can read the full report, entitled Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, online at the National Academies Press website