The U.S. is at risk of losing capabilities of NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite systems used to survey the Earth’s climate conditions, FierceGovernment IT reports.
Not effectively observing environmental factors will limit weather forecasting accuracy and reduce agencies’ ability to respond to natural hazards, according to a National Research Council report.
NRC issued the report last Wednesday and said the loss of Earth observing satellite capabilities is a direct result of insufficient funding for NASA.
NOAA’s future operational environmental satellite series’ budget has also been significantly reduced, the group said.
By 2020, NASA and NOAA instruments used to observe Earth’s environmental conditions will reduce by 25 percent from the current number, according to the report.
NRC said it issued a 10-year plan to NASA for the program five years ago, which NASA has not been able to execute in a timely way since funding is below the $2 billion per year needed in fiscal 2006 dollars.
In addition to being underfunded, NRC said the program has also become more expensive than the estimated cost as a result of delays and launch failures, among other factors.
The program’s cost has also been skewed since NASA was mandated to spend funding on features for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission and Climate Continuity missions, not part of NRC’s 10-year plan.
NRC said in the report that NASA will not likely receive the funding necessary for the Earth science program.
NASA should form a cross-mission science and engineering team to determine how the division can best achieve its missions in the current budget environment, the group said.