‘Remote sensors operating from the vantage point of space will never replace direct measurements and acoustic remote sensing … but satellite remote-sensing observing and data relay and platform location techniques should play a substantial role that needs to be systematically recognized and exploited in future programs of ocean sciences research,’ according to the recent report to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by the National Oceanographic Satellite System (NOSS) Science Working Group. ‘Needs, Opportunities, and Strategies for a Long-Term Oceanic Sciences Satellite Program’ stresses both the need for the integration of data obtained from remote-sensing satellites and from direct observations and the need for more precise data.
The NOSS Science Working Group (see box) was established in 1980 under the chairmanship of Francis P. Bretherton of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to address the scientific needs of the oceanographic community as a whole. The group was charged with three tasks, according to Lawrence F. McGoldrick of NASA's oceanic processes branch: to recommend sensor modifications and additions to fill the 25% of spacecraft capacity reserved for research instrumentation; to identify research problems amenable to using NOSS data;; and to recommend appropriate facilities for researchers to solve these problems. Since the group was formed, however, NOSS was deleted from the budget. The group views the report, dated November 1981 but released about 5 months later, as a focus for near term directions of NASA's satellite oceanography group.