Better, faster, cheaper


  • Randy Showstack


In space research, as with other endeavors, the right answer often depends on the right question. NASA announced in August that it will design the second and third generation Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites closer to their launch dates—in part to make sure that the agency asks the best, and the latest, scientific questions.

Closing the gap between satellite design and launch from about 8 to 3 years will allow NASA to incorporate scientific data from earlier missions and use better and more compact instrument technology, says Bill Townsend, acting assistant administrator for the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE). MTPE includes the EOS program, which studies Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, and ice cover.