Author Topic: New Budget Realities  (Read 10273 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #20 on: 03/01/2017 07:58 PM »
NASA doesn't manage the operations of NOAA spacecraft

I think a lot of people, including those who argue the "turn Earth sciences over to NOAA" thing, don't understand what the two agencies do even at a relatively superficial level.

For example, NOAA operates Landsat, but also all the GOES satellites, plus DSCOVR and so on. They actually have a relatively sizeable satellite fleet.

NASA operates quite a few Earth sciences satellites such as Terra, Aqua, CloudSat, etc. I'd have to go digging around a bit, but I think that NASA operates more Earth sciences satellites than NOAA operates satellites. And NASA's total number of operational spacecraft of all types is quite large (well over 100).

But that's simply flying the satellites. There are many other dimensions to this as well. One of the most basic, but somewhat difficult to understand, is that NOAA's satellites are "operational" satellites that are primarily used to provide data to users for immediate forecasting and decision making, and NOT for research purposes. A NOAA weather satellite allows a ship captain to plot his course and avoid storms, allows emergency management personnel to plan for hurricanes, and allows members of the public to determine if they need to bring an umbrella when they leave the house. Those are immediate needs, and they shape the way NOAA operates and the way the satellites are designed.

NASA's Earth sciences work is much more on the research side. NASA collects data that helps scientists understand the Earth as a system. And that can involve a lot of different things. Some of that includes building better models that then get migrated over to the systems that NOAA operates. For instance, one area of NASA research is trying to understand what causes hurricanes to form. They collect basic data on that and build the early models, and then eventually that work finds its way to NOAA so that people looking at satellite images of the South Atlantic can spot the conditions indicating that a hurricane may form many days before it actually happens. And NASA Earth sciences research looks at other things, like vegetation cover and deforestation, which are things that NOAA actually does not do (keep in mind that most of NOAA's focus is maritime/water and not inland).

Research and operational observations are different things. And there are good reasons to separate them.

Offline jgoldader

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #21 on: 03/01/2017 08:40 PM »
My interest in moving the climate things to NOAA is that some of the climate work done by GISS, whether rightly or wrongly (and I don't intend to debate that question), has been perceived as nakedly political by certain quarters.  The result is that NASA as a whole comes under attack, and pays a political price.  Moving the climate work to an agency that basically studies climate would remove that issue.
Recovering astronomer

Offline rsnellenberger

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #22 on: 03/01/2017 08:50 PM »
What's the problem being solved?

And that's the question that should be asked every time this comes up. In fact, if you went to the Earth scientist community and asked "Is Earth science as a discipline broken?" and also asked "Would moving responsibility for Earth science from NASA to NOAA make things better?" the answer to both questions will be "No."

Look, it's pretty simple: the people who propose moving Earth sciences from NASA to NOAA almost always:

1-Don't care about Earth sciences;
2-Often are outright hostile to Earth sciences;
3-Do not understand what it is, or how it is done at either NASA or NOAA;
4-Do not understand what it would actually require to make such a move (for starters: it requires a new law, not simply an executive order or even a budget);
5-Are not trying to improve it.


6-Object to the politicization of climate research during the tenure of James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #23 on: 03/02/2017 12:29 AM »
6-Object to the politicization of climate research during the tenure of James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

He's gone. And how would moving a $1.5 billion program to another agency have solved that problem?

Again: the people who propose this are not trying to improve the problem, they don't give a damn, or want to actually hurt Earth sciences.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2017 12:31 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #24 on: 03/02/2017 12:32 AM »
My interest in moving the climate things to NOAA is that some of the climate work done by GISS, whether rightly or wrongly (and I don't intend to debate that question), has been perceived as nakedly political by certain quarters.  The result is that NASA as a whole comes under attack, and pays a political price.  Moving the climate work to an agency that basically studies climate would remove that issue.

You realize that "Earth science" is not the same as "climate research," right?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #25 on: 03/02/2017 01:28 AM »
NASA's 1958 charter states:
"The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;..."

...notice how atmosphere is the first item in the first objective. Understanding climate is clearly fundamental to NASA's chartered purpose.


...and now with the discovery of more and more potentially-habitable exoplanets, NASA will have more data points to validate our ability to model climate. Understanding the climate of Venus and Mars, for instance, are also in NASA's wheelhouse, and because NASA is the ONLY agency able to study multiple planetary climates directly, NASA is actually uniquely suited to a full understanding of Earth's climate (less so short-term weather events).
« Last Edit: 03/02/2017 01:30 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #26 on: 03/02/2017 04:44 AM »
There is a difference between NASA obtaining Earth science data (which it should be doing) and promoting a green agenda (which it shouldn't be doing). That line had become blurred under the Obama Administration. That's already changing under the Trump administration. You should also expect a better balance in the funding of Earth science and of planetary science. I therefore expect that there will be increases to planetary science funding and a corresponding decreases to Earth science funding (essentially the opposite of what happened under Obama).   
« Last Edit: 03/02/2017 04:48 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #27 on: 03/02/2017 06:35 AM »
Pretty sure general conservation and science are nonpartisan values, not "agendas."
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #28 on: 03/02/2017 01:09 PM »
You should also expect a better balance in the funding of Earth science and of planetary science.

What exactly do you mean by "balance"? Do you mean that they should be equal budgets? Why is the heliophysics budget so much smaller than the other three space science disciplines? Is that out of balance?

Within each of the science disciplines there is an ongoing discussion of "balance" and what it means. But that's internal. There is no reason that the various science disciplines have to be balanced against each other. They should reflect the priorities of the nation. If the national leadership decides that something is more important, it will get funded at a higher level.

Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #29 on: 03/02/2017 02:39 PM »
Pretty sure general conservation and science are nonpartisan values, not "agendas."

I never said otherwise. But it went beyond that under the Obama Administration. NASA TV and the NASA website were promoting a greener environment. That is not their job in my opinion.

Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #30 on: 03/02/2017 02:48 PM »
You should also expect a better balance in the funding of Earth science and of planetary science.

What exactly do you mean by "balance"? Do you mean that they should be equal budgets? Why is the heliophysics budget so much smaller than the other three space science disciplines? Is that out of balance?

Within each of the science disciplines there is an ongoing discussion of "balance" and what it means. But that's internal. There is no reason that the various science disciplines have to be balanced against each other. They should reflect the priorities of the nation. If the national leadership decides that something is more important, it will get funded at a higher level.

The trend under the Obama administration was that Earth funding kept increasing at the expense of planetary science. There was some push back from Congress on this. I expect the trend to reverse under the new administration. I don't know if funding for Earth sciences needs to be equal to planetary science but I think that there were close to eacher other in the past and that they will be closer to each other in the President's upcoming budget.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #31 on: 03/02/2017 06:06 PM »
I never said otherwise. But it went beyond that under the Obama Administration. NASA TV and the NASA website were promoting a greener environment. That is not their job in my opinion.

Here's to hoping that they reverse the trend and promote a less-green environment. Who needs clean air, anyway?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #32 on: 03/02/2017 06:20 PM »
NASA's Earth sciences work is much more on the research side. NASA collects data that helps scientists understand the Earth as a system. And that can involve a lot of different things. Some of that includes building better models that then get migrated over to the systems that NOAA operates. For instance, one area of NASA research is trying to understand what causes hurricanes to form. They collect basic data on that and build the early models, and then eventually that work finds its way to NOAA so that people looking at satellite images of the South Atlantic can spot the conditions indicating that a hurricane may form many days before it actually happens. And NASA Earth sciences research looks at other things, like vegetation cover and deforestation, which are things that NOAA actually does not do (keep in mind that most of NOAA's focus is maritime/water and not inland).

Research and operational observations are different things. And there are good reasons to separate them.

Let me be rude and add a comment to my earlier comment. I heard this story second-hand, so I may have some of the details wrong. But if the overall story is correct, it provides a good example of these things.

The most recent GOES-R geostationary weather satellite, which is operated by NOAA, includes a lightning detection sensor. Apparently that is new and has not been carried on previous NOAA satellites. Now it turns out that increased lighting flashes are directly correlated to increases in storm strength--in other words, as a thunderstorm gets stronger, it emits more lighting and by counting the lightning flashes, you can tell if a storm's intensity is increasing. Other methods of determining storm intensity are apparently not as good.

That lightning sensor was developed by NASA. It was part of a research program. Probably a few decades ago somebody who was applying for a grant or proposing an Earth sciences research instrument suggested that they gather information on lightning flashes. Maybe they already had other data or a working hyphothesis that lightning was connected to storm intensity. But what they really needed to do was research, and the way to do research is with a research program, not an operational weather satellite program that is required for immediate decision making. So NASA funded the research, that turned into observations that correlated with real-world experience, and then that research matured enough for somebody to say "hey, we should think about using this on weather satellites so that people can warn that storms are getting severe and might generate tornadoes."

There are many good reasons to keep research programs and operational programs separate. One of them is that science needs the opportunity to chase down leads that go in odd directions. That's a cultural thing and a budget thing. But another reason is that operational programs--like weather satellites--are very important and urgent, and when they experience problems, they will immediately suck money away from "less urgent" programs. Thus, if you stuck the research programs and the operational programs in the same agency, you would always run the risk of starving the research.

And if you do that, you never discover things like the link between lightning flashes and storm intensity and tornadoes.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #33 on: 03/02/2017 07:52 PM »
Pretty sure general conservation and science are nonpartisan values, not "agendas."

I never said otherwise. But it went beyond that under the Obama Administration. NASA TV and the NASA website were promoting a greener environment. That is not their job in my opinion.
Again, when did this become controversial?
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Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #34 on: 03/02/2017 08:32 PM »
Pretty sure general conservation and science are nonpartisan values, not "agendas."

I never said otherwise. But it went beyond that under the Obama Administration. NASA TV and the NASA website were promoting a greener environment. That is not their job in my opinion.
Again, when did this become controversial?

It wasn't controversial under Obama. But the Republicans are in control now. But NASA has already changed its core message to focus on space exploration. It's common sense. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #35 on: 03/02/2017 08:35 PM »
I never said otherwise. But it went beyond that under the Obama Administration. NASA TV and the NASA website were promoting a greener environment. That is not their job in my opinion.

Here's to hoping that they reverse the trend and promote a less-green environment. Who needs clean air, anyway?

NASA can let other organizations promote a greener environment and focus its core message on space exploration.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2017 09:07 PM by yg1968 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #36 on: 03/02/2017 09:15 PM »
NASA should focus on Space related activities.  It should only use facts they find about earth's atmosphere, not promote anything but space related activities.  Greener activities and climate change studies should be done by the EPA, not NASA. 
NASA shouldn't promote ANYTHING not space related, not religion, not politics.  It should be a non political agency. 

Offline launchwatcher

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #37 on: 03/02/2017 09:36 PM »
NASA's Earth sciences work is much more on the research side. NASA collects data that helps scientists understand the Earth as a system. And that can involve a lot of different things. Some of that includes building better models that then get migrated over to the systems that NOAA operates. For instance, one area of NASA research is trying to understand what causes hurricanes to form. They collect basic data on that and build the early models, and then eventually that work finds its way to NOAA so that people looking at satellite images of the South Atlantic can spot the conditions indicating that a hurricane may form many days before it actually happens. And NASA Earth sciences research looks at other things, like vegetation cover and deforestation, which are things that NOAA actually does not do (keep in mind that most of NOAA's focus is maritime/water and not inland).

Research and operational observations are different things. And there are good reasons to separate them.

Let me be rude and add a comment to my earlier comment. I heard this story second-hand, so I may have some of the details wrong. But if the overall story is correct, it provides a good example of these things.

The most recent GOES-R geostationary weather satellite, which is operated by NOAA, includes a lightning detection sensor. Apparently that is new and has not been carried on previous NOAA satellites.
was curious about this so I did a little digging:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_Rainfall_Measuring_Mission
http://www.space.com/34764-goes-r-satellite-tracks-lightning-and-more.html
https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/jcsda/documents/seminardocs/Goodman20100526/Goodman_20100526.pdf

A lightning sensor launched in 1997 on TRMM,  a joint NASA-JAXA LEO satellite.   The correlation between storm activity and lightning activity was demonstrated based on TRMM data.

So looks like roughly 20 years from first launch of prototype to full-scale deployment.   (When the train -- in this case a major weather satellite upgrade - only leaves about once a decade, it's rough when you miss one..).

Offline Danderman

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #38 on: 03/02/2017 09:44 PM »
Heads Up NASA People: A Storm Is Coming

http://nasawatch.com/

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said this week that non-military spending will take the "largest-proposed reduction since the early years of the Reagan administration." To prepare for that possibility, agencies are preparing to shave 10 percent off their budgets, on average. And words like buyouts, furloughs and RIFs (or reduction in force) - government-speak for layoffs - are now being tossed around at the water cooler as civil servants face the possibility of massive downsizing. Some of these strategies were used when Ronald Reagan was president and others more recently to meet the goals of budget caps known as sequestration."

A storm is coming folks. You cannot hide under your desks and try and to ride it out. Not this time. You need to be preparing contingency plans and be ready to try things that you have never tried before to accomplish the tasks you have been given to do. Otherwise those things will not get done.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #39 on: 03/02/2017 09:53 PM »
First, it's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. So they should not only promote space.

Second, NASA is doing 'green'. And before the Obama admin.

Third, there mandate includes education so NASA TV 'green' programs fits there especially if they are programs they are running.

Sorry to be short but they are doing great 'green' things but not for political points but very practical reasons like better fuel economy on planes.

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