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GOP House Science Committee To Evaluate NASA Earth Science Budget

Tom Feeney (R-FL)
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 28, 2007
Today, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics heard from a panel of expert witnesses who discussed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) fiscal year 2008 (FY08) budget request and plans for the agency's Earth science programs. At the hearing, Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL) made the following statement:

"Today's hearing on NASA's Earth Sciences and Applications programs, and the FY08 budget request, gives our Committee an opportunity to review NASA's management of - and rationale for - its current array of Earth-observing missions, and an opportunity to understand how the agency will incorporate the recommendations of the Earth Sciences Decadal Survey into its future plans.

"NASA's Earth Sciences program is one of that agency's unsung achievements. When discussing NASA, our nation's collective attention is often focused on human spaceflight, or stunning images returned from distant planets and orbiting observatories. But rarely does the national press carry front-page stories or images taken from NASA's Earth-observing satellites, except perhaps, during hurricane season.

Having said that, most of the weather and climate prediction tools used daily by forecasters is often a direct product of NASA-sponsored research. And a good portion of climate change research is also made possible by data taken from NASA-developed sensors, satellites, and sophisticated research and analysis products.

"Will this record of accomplishment in Earth Science missions continue? Yes. Will it happen fast enough to satisfy the research community? Probably not. Are NASA's plans for future Earth Science research missions any indication of the agency's reduced commitment toward a robust program? Emphatically no.

"NASA's other science programs - astrophysics, planetary, and heliophysics -share the same challenges as Earth Science. Their related decadal surveys prioritize researcher wishes and offer strategic guidance on the types and sequence of missions needed to answer leading questions. NASA has neither the resources nor, oftentimes, the necessary technologies to fulfill all desires. But NASA does strive to fulfill the highest priorities established by that research community.

"Requests for expanded efforts in all of NASA's fields of endeavor simply confirm this agency's reputation as a place where the most challenging of tasks get done. Having said that, I hope we don't drift into an earlier era where NASA was tasked with doing too much with too little. We know where that path led. So I hope all NASA supporters - myself included - temper our enthusiastic desires with a realistic assessment of what is possible.

"NASA's Earth Sciences program has produced stunning scientific results, often demonstrating, for the first time, measurements and capabilities that have never before been accomplished. I want that record of achievement to continue, and it's also my desire that we build upon the program's success to enable the goals established in the Decadal Survey."

Witnesses who testified at today's hearing were: Dr. Michael H. Freilich, Director, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA; Dr. Richard A. Anthes, President, Universities Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Dr. Eric J. Barron, Dean, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas, Austin; and Dr. Timothy W. Foresman, President, International Center for Remote Sensing Education.

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Subcommittee Continues Look At Status of NASA Earth Science Programs
Washington, DC (SPX) Jun 29, 2007
The House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics continues to examine the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Fiscal Year 2008 budget request and plans for the Earth science and applications programs. The latest hearing built upon the Science and Technology Committee's February 13th hearing which examined the findings and recommendations of the National Academies' Earth Science and Applications "Decadal Survey."

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