Earth Observing System:

Concerns Over NASA's Basic Research Funding Strategy

NSIAD-96-97: Published: Jul 11, 1996. Publicly Released: Aug 13, 1996.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) plans for funding its Earth Observing System (EOS) and developing EOS-related basic research, focusing on: (1) the current number of EOS science investigations; (2) researchers' views on whether changes to EOS have adversely affected their ability to carry out their interdisciplinary earth sciences investigations; and (3) the Earth System Science Pathfinder program and its potential impact on future EOS investigations.

GAO found that: (1) NASA funds 29 interdisciplinary science investigations that use data from EOS instruments in more than one earth science discipline; (2) to expand the EOS research community, NASA plans to maintain an open data access policy, add investigations, reevaluate current science investigations, and recruit new investigators; (3) most EOS interdisciplinary scientists believe that EOS budgetary reductions have little or no effect on their work; and (4) NASA plans to use anticipated savings resulting from improved technology to fund more investigations and request a total of $200 million over the next 4 fiscal years for its Earth System Science Pathfinder program.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress did not act on this matter for consideration during the most recently completed appropriations request cycle. No further consideration is anticipated.

    Matter: In judging the extent to which it should support the proposed Earth System Pathfinder program, Congress may wish to have NASA demonstrate that the potential value of Pathfinder investigations will exceed the potential value of additional EOS investigations that could be obtained with the same resources.


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