CIESIN Reproduced, with permission, from: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 1993. Earth Observing System (EOS) Reference Handbook, ed. G. Asrar and D. J. Dokken. Washington, D. C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Earth Science Support Office, Document Resource Facility.


Interagency cooperation in the development and implementation of EOS continues to be extensive, especially among those agencies with space programs and/or significant responsibilities for archiving Earth science data. National Space Policy Directive 7 further cemented these agency relationships by establishing the Space-Based Global Change Observation System (S-GCOS) Program in June 1992. In tandem with other studies coordinated through USGCRP, S-GCOS will provide the global observations that help researchers understand the Earth as a system. The U.S. Government has plated S-GCOS in the forefront of USGCRP to ensure collection of comprehensive, integrated sets of consistent ground- and space-based observations; the space component of S-GCOS has Mission to Planet Earth as its centerpiece. NASA's Mission to Planet Earth Program has been planned to benefit from and complement the capabilities of its Federal partners, which are listed below, with specific roles in EOS development defined in the following paragraphs:

Refer to the Mission Elements section for descriptions of the S-GCOS satellite and instrument contributions that fall under the rubric of the International Earth Observing System.


NOAA conducts U.S. civil programs for operational Earth remote sensing. Since 1960, satellite observations of the global environment have been provided by NOAA's POES system. Coverage of the Western Hemisphere has been provided by NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system since 1974. The current and future satellites of the POES and GOES systems are an essential part of USGCRP. These satellites provide valuable precursor data, and will yield complementary observations during the EOS mission lifetime. Furthermore, NOAA's long-term data record will be used to establish baseline conditions and to detect trends.

The present POES Program maintains two operational satellites in polar orbit--one providing morning (AM) coverage and the other afternoon (PM) coverage. The U.S. and Europe (i.e., EUMETSAT and ESA) have agreed in principle that Europe will take over responsibility for the AM global coverage mission in the 2000 time frame. NOAA will provide AM coverage through 2000, and will continue PM coverage. Through NOAA, the U.S. will provide a suite of four primary sensors for the European AM mission. EUMETSAT and others will reciprocate by supplying sensors and subsystems for flight on both the AM and PM satellites.

Planning for the cooperative program of global coverage by the U S. and Europe includes arrangements to fly the NOAA/EUMETSAT operational payload in morning orbit and EUMETSAT's establishment of a high latitude ground station to read out data from both the AM and PM platforms. This latter agreement ensures that data are downlinked each orbit, minimizing data latency and dependence on data averaging. With one European and two U.S. high-latitude stations, NOAA and EUMETSAT will essentially eliminate data delays associated with the recording of multiple or "blind" orbits. NOAA and EUMETSAT have agreed to establish systems and procedures to ensure the timely and full exchange of operational mission data.

Long-term improvements in NOAA satellite, instrument, and space subsystem design are expected to result from technology advances associated with the EOS Program. To this end, coordination in technology development extends to NASA designating some EOS instruments as "prototypes" for future operational environmental satellites. This means than NOAA and NASA are agreeing on design features that would enable these prototypes to be transferred to NOAA spacecraft after being space-proven in NASA research/demonstration efforts.

Data products derived from POES and GOES observations are provided to users in real-time and from archived data sets by NOAA; in addition, Pathfinder data sets are provided jointly by NASA and NOAA (see the Pathfinder Data Sets section). As a participant in the EOSDIS Program, NOAA will serve as the long-term archive for a major portion of EOS data, and will continue to make available in situ data from its data centers. NOAA actively participates in EO-ICWG and the Committee on Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS); in addition, NOAA chairs the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global (Change (IWGDMGC), where interagency data exchange arrangements and polities are planned and coordinated.


DoD's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) maintains satellites in polar orbit to gather global environmental data. DMSP data and derived products have been made available to non-DoD users through NOAA. DoD will continue DMSP into the foreseeable future, and DMSP data will be available to global change researchers in standard formats via global change data networks.

In addition, responsibility for Landsat program management was assigned to the NASA Administrator and the Secretary of Defense by the Land Remote-Sensing Polity Act of 1992 (PL 102-555). This Act stipulates that NASA and DoD are to proceed with the procurement, launch, and operations of Landsat-7--providing data continuity with and beyond Landsat-6, which is scheduled for launch in 1993. The Act provides for the orderly transfer of Landsat responsibilities from the Secretary of Commerce to the NASA-DoD Landsat Program Management Team, as well as the requirement for a program of research, development, and demonstration of advanced land remote-sensing technology. The Landsat Program Management Team awarded a contract for Landsat-7 in the fall of 1992; a research and development program plan to demonstrate new technologies is currently being prepared.

DoD plans future satellites and instruments that will provide additional Earth system observations. Missions under consideration address ocean conditions, ozone and trace gas distributions, ionospheric airglow, and solar energy interactions with the atmosphere. DoD participates in planning for USGCRP and its associated data systems. In cooperation with the other Federal agencies involved in EOSDIS and related data systems, DoD is seeking workable approaches to make more of its relevant data available. Other working groups are being established to explore potential environmental remote-sensing collaborations between NASA and DoD.


DOE develops and uses remote-sensing technology in many of its programs. The agency develops and tests climate models, and assesses the impacts associated with incidental environmental forcing functions. For instance, DOE has conducted a decade-long program to improve general circulation models and to provide reliable predictions of regional climatic change in response to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases. DOE holds databases acquired from a multitude of sources as tools for continuing its modeling and climate-prediction activities.

With respect to hardware, DOE has successfully miniaturized key components of space-based instrumentation, which adds a great deal of flexibility to Earth remote-sensing programs. Recent developments now enable the deployment of low-mass, low-volume sensors on conventional or small satellites. Miniaturization technology contributes to the effectiveness of USGCRP by allowing early deployment of small satellites. In an effort to exploit such technology advances, NASA and DOE have created a Joint Development and Demonstration Program in Advanced Remote-Sensing Technology, which has the objective of lowering the cost and improving the performance of remote sensors. The ultimate goal involves the development of remote-sensing technologies and concepts for space-based environmental applications. Four areas are currently under investigation: laser detection of winds, high-resolution multispectral imaging, synthetic aperture radar, and unmanned aerospace vehicle (UAV) sensing.

Along with the involved U.S. agencies, DOE is developing the networking capabilities to make its current and future global change archives more conveniently accessible to users. In the EOSDIS framework, DOE has agreed to manage the EOS biogeochemical dynamics database, and data from coordinated field experiments. This database will reside at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).


Management responsibility for the Nation's natural ecosystem, energy and water resources, and public lands is vested in DOI. Within DOI, USGS is addressing the collection maintenance, analysis, and interpretation of in situ short- and long-term land, water, biological, and other natural resource data and information. USGS is developing advanced information systems to provide enhanced access to existing and future archives of Earth science data through its primary archive for global change data--the Earth Resources Observation System (EROS) Data Center (EDC).

EDC houses the world's largest collection of space- and aircraft-based imagery of the Earth's land surface, including over 2 million images acquired from Landsat and other satellites, and over 8 million aerial photographs. As part of the EOS Program, EDC is responsible for the following:

GLIS--an on-line data directory, guide, and inventory system--is being developed by USGS to respond to the land data and access needs of the global change research community.

By the time of EOS-AM1 launch in 1998, Landsat data housed at EDC will provide a 25-year baseline of information about land surface conditions and changes. As the operator of the National Satellite Land Remote-Sensing Data Archive, USGS has embarked upon a major program to convert the Landsat data archive to next-generation durable storage media, thereby avoiding loss of data stored on deteriorating magnetic tapes. In addition, EDC will serve as the processing, distribution, and archival facility for Landsat-7 data.