Keeping an Eye on Earth Is Getting Harder

Keeping an Eye on Earth Is Getting Harder

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The ability of U.S. scientists to monitor changes in the planet’s climate, natural hazards, and land surface continues to deteriorate, warns a report from the U.S. National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC). Aging satellites are being replaced too slowly, the report concludes, and by 2020 the country may have only 25% of its current observing capacity.

The new panel was asked to review progress since the NRC’s decadal survey of NASA’s Earth-observing satellite missions was completed in 2007. That survey cautioned that the U.S. observation program was at risk. NASA has attempted to uphold the priorities outlined in the decadal survey, the committee notes. But the observation network has suffered as long-running missions end and new missions are lost, delayed, or canceled.

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