National Academies to Release Earth Science Decadal Survey

Congress anticipates survey to recommend priorities on Earth observation from space amid climate science-funding debates

U.S. scientists plan to release their once-a-decade list of recommended Earth observation spending priorities Friday in a press conference in Washington, D.C.

 The scientific community survey, “Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space,” was written by a committee assembled by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Known informally as the Earth sciences decadal survey, the document could affect spending decisions by Congress and the Trump administration, especially in the politically sensitive area of climate science.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., President Donald Trump’s nominee for NASA administrator, spoke glowingly of the decadal survey process during his Nov. 1 confirmation, and he said “yes” when Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.,  asked if he would follow the recommendations.

Bridenstine said the surveys lead policymakers to “make good decisions,” and he added: “We need to follow the decadals.”

The survey is scheduled for release during a press conference at 11 a.m. Eastern on Friday at the National Academies’ Keck Center in Washington.

 The release of the survey comes as Congress is debating the Trump administration’s proposed NASA budget for 2018, which would cut funding for five satellites or instruments related to climate science. These cuts would include the Deep Space Climate Observatory Earth observation satellite currently in orbit; the proposed Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem satellite; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 spectrometer; a radiometer that would ride on NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 weather satellite; and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory Pathfinder spectrometer that would attach to the outside of the International Space Station.

Editor’s note: At the top of this page, the frozen northeast U.S. landscape is visible in an image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite. The image was made on Dec. 28, 2017.

National Academies to Release Earth Science Decadal Survey