NOAA should embrace Landsat


  • Susan Bush


“If only NOAA would embrace the Landsat satellite system, rather than trying to abandon it, then NOAA would be taking a giant step toward establishing its proper leadership role in global environmental science.” This statement was made by James H. Scheuer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Agriculture Research and Environment at a hearing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fiscal Year 1992 budget, on April 11.

Responding to a report by the Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES), which stated that Landsat data is critical to the understanding of global warming, Scheuer is perplexed that NOAA would not want to fund Landsat 7 and that NOAA can have towering leadership and support of global climate research but tepid support of the Landsat part of the program. NOAA requested a 66% increase in funding for FY92 for the Global Climate Change Research program ($31 million total). Operational costs of Landsat 4 and 5, currently in orbit, and Landsat 6, scheduled for launch in May 1992, are part of NOAA's FY92 budget. Total cost, said NOAA comptroller, Rodney Weiher, will be almost $19 million, of which $9.15 million will come out of the NOAA budget and the remaining $9 million from other agencies.