Mission to Planet Earth and Earth Observation System

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush publicly endorsed NASA's new program, officially called MTPE. The key element was the Earth Observation System (EOS), projected to cost $30 billion over a 15 years span. EOS would provide long-term data sets. It would use a large range of land, sea, and atmospheric sensors built on two huge platforms in space, and it would provide comprehensive and simultaneous measurements of global change. The next year, just as implementation of MTPE got underway, the program ran into a financial barrier. Because of exploding federal budget deficits, Bush and Congress agreed on budget caps for discretionary expenditures, including space. NASA could not have both the Space Station and EOS growing rapidly in expense at the same time. Something had to give, and it was EOS [10].

Earth Observation System subsequently went through downsizing and restructuring, becoming primarily a climate change-oriented program. When

Republicans took control of Congress in 1995, they attacked EOS as "political" science linked to unproven claims about global warming voiced by Vice President Al Gore. EOS survived, but what emerged from a decade of upheaval for the program was a set of three moderate-sized satellites, launched sequentially as they became ready, emphasizing different aspects of environmental (especially climate) change. The cost of developing the EOS system, including a data dissemination component, was approximately $6.8 billion [11]. The first satellite, Terra, went up in 1999; the second, Aqua, in 2002; the third, Aura, in 2004.

Earth Observation System was not the system that had been planned in the late 1980s, but was a significant leap forward in environmental observation. In addition, NASA launched a number of more specialized environmental satellites. Meanwhile, many other nations (Europe, Japan, Russia, Canada, India, China, and others) launched satellites to monitor their own regional environmental problems. In 2003, these spacefaring nations met under U.S. State Department auspices and agreed to link their national systems into a "system of systems" that would coordinate diverse measurements. Everyone, it was now argued, had a common interest in knowing how the planet, especially its climate, was changing. There was also an interest in how satellites could help better assist all people in coping with national disasters in general. The United States said it would play a lead role in developing such a "system of systems" [12].

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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