NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

April 10, 1998


NASA has found software performance problems with ground system software required to control, monitor and schedule science activities on the Earth Observing System (EOS) series of spacecraft.

Officials believe these problems will delay the software which will impact the launch date for the Earth Observing Spacecraft AM-1. The launch, originally planned for late June 1998, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, will be delayed at least until the end of the year.

The Ground Control Software, called the "Flight Operations Segment" (FOS) software, is part of the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), the ground system responsible for spacecraft control, data acquisition, and science information processing and distribution for NASA's Earth Science enterprise, including the EOS flight missions.

The problem is with the EOSDIS control center system FOS software that supports the command and control of spacecraft and instruments, the monitoring of spacecraft and instrument health and safety, the planning and scheduling of instrument operations, and the analysis of spacecraft trends and anomalies.

What was supposed to have been the final version of the software was delivered to NASA by Lockheed Martin on March 31, to support integrated simulations with the EOS AM-1 spacecraft. Testing of this software delivery revealed significant performance problems. Program managers expect it to take several weeks to clearly understand whether correcting the current software or taking other measures is the best approach.

"We're concurrently looking at commercial off-the-shelf technology that was not available when this software system initially was designed," said Arthur "Rick" Obenschain, project manager for EOSDIS at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "If for some reason the current software problems canŐt be fixed, we have a backup plan."

Prior to the March 31 delivery, there were three previous incremental deliveries of the software in August 1997, December 1997 and February 1998. Previous versions of the software successfully demonstrated real-time commanding functions with the AM-1 spacecraft. In the new version, however, a number of problems identified in the previous software deliveries were not corrected as expected, and significant problems were found in the new capabilities. Problems include unacceptable response time in developing spacecraft schedules, poor performance in analyzing spacecraft status and trends from telemetry data, and improper implementation of decision rules in the control language used by the flight team to automate operations.

Government/contractor teams have been formed to evaluate options for correcting these problems to minimize impact on the AM-1 launch. A recovery plan is being developed and will be reviewed during the last week of April.

The FOS is being developed by Lockheed Martin under subcontract to Raytheon Information Systems Company under the EOSDIS Core System contract. The Flight Operations Segment of the EOSDIS software has cost $27.5 million as of February 1998.

THE EOSDIS and EOS AM-1 are part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise, a long-term research program designed to study Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, ice and life as a total integrated system. Goddard manages the development of EOSDIS and EOS AM-1 for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC.

American Geophysical Union
Washington, D.C. 20009

March 31, 1998

Name a satellite and watch its launch

A contest for 8th to 12th grade students

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Geophysical Union and NASA are co-sponsoring a contest among eighth to twelfth grade students to name the first Earth Observing System spacecraft, to be launched later this year. The winner will be invited to witness the launch at NASA's Vandenberg facility in southern California, accompanied by his or her parents.

The EOS series of spacecraft will provide data that will enable scientists to prepare models of Earth's total global environment. This will lead to improved predictions of climatic change and suggest ways of preparing for it. The first satellite will fly in a near polar orbit, crossing the Equator at about 10:30 AM local time on each pass. It is therefore currently known as EOS-AM.

AGU, an organization of 36,000 members enagaged in the study of earth and space sciences, and NASA are inviting schoolchildren worldwide to enter the naming contest. Entries must include an essay in English of 300 words or fewer, explaining the rationale for the name that is proposed. The name should reflect the purpose of the EOS mission and suggest the benefits it will bring. Further information about the EOS mission is available from the NASA's special web site:

The winner will be selected by AGU, and entries must be received by 5:00 PM EDT on Friday, May 29, 1998. Full rules of the contest are available at the AGU web site, An online entry form is available. E-mail entries are welcomed to Television meterologists have been asked to inform young viewers of the contest and establish hyperlinks from their own web sites to the AGU site.

First prize is up to $3,000 toward expenses of a trip to the launch site for the winner and his or her parents. The winner's teacher will receive a computer and software, valued up to $3,000, enabling direct access to EOS-AM image data.

The first 500 entrants will receive an EOS mision tee shirt, poster, and decal. The top five essays up will be published on the AGU and NASA web sites.


August 29, 1997

The first of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) Spacecraft, EOS AM-1, has reached a critical milestone with the delivery of its last science instrument, allowing completion of module testing and integration of the instruments and the spacecraft. The last instrument arrived on Aug. 25.

EOS AM-1 begins a new generation of Earth science - one that studies the Earth as a global system. EOS will carry a complement of five synergistic instruments. "We're absolutely thrilled to reach this milestone," said Dr. Robert Price, Director of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth Program Office at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "We're now well on our way to having the spacecraft ready for its June 1998 launch."

The next critical step for EOS AM-1 is to complete systems tests which validate the ability of the integrated spacecraft to withstand the harsh environment of space and to work with its ground system. Following that, the spacecraft will be delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, for launch processing.

The EOS AM-1 spacecraft is being assembled and tested by Lockheed-Martin at its Valley Forge, PA, production facility.

The EOS series spacecraft are the cornerstone of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) Enterprise, a long-term coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. EOS AM-1 will use this unique perspective from space to observe the Earth's continents, oceans and atmosphere with five state-of-the-art instruments with measurement capability and accuracy never flown before. This unique approach enables scientists to study the interactions among these three components of the Earth system, which determine the cycling of water and nutrients on Earth.

"EOS AM-1 will study simultaneously clouds, water vapor, aerosol, particles, trace gases, terrestrial and oceanic properties, the interaction between them and their effect on atmospheric radiation and climate," said Dr. Yoram Kaufman, EOS AM-1 project scientist. "Moreover, EOS AM-1 will observe changes in Earth's radiation energy budget, together with measurements of changes in land/ocean surface and interaction with the atmosphere through exchanges of energy, carbon, and water. Clearly comprehending these interactive processes is essential to understanding global climate change," he said.

A polar-orbiting spacecraft, EOS AM-1 is scheduled for launch in June 1998 aboard an Atlas-Centaur IIAS launch vehicle from Vandenberg AFB. Because the AM series emphasizes observations of terrestrial surface features, its orbit is designed to cross the equator at 10:30 a.m., when cloud cover is minimalized.

The Cloud's and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument will perform measurements of the Earth's "radiation budget," or the process in which the Earth's climate system constantly tries to maintain a balance between the energy that reaches the Earth from the Sun, and the energy that goes from Earth back out to space. The components of the Earth system that are important to the radiation budget are the planet's surface, atmosphere, and clouds.

The Multi-Angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) will measure the variation of the surface and cloud properties with the view angle. Meanwhile, the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) will measure atmosphere, land and ocean processes, including surface temperature of both the land and ocean, ocean color, global vegetation, cloud characteristics, temperature and moisture profiles, and snow cover. The Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument is an infrared gas-correlation radiometer that will take global measurements of carbon monoxide and methane in the troposphere. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) will measure cloud and vegetation properties, surface mineralogy, soil properties, surface temperature, and surface topography for selected regions of the Earth.

The CERES, MISR, and MODIS instruments are provided by the United States; MOPITT by Canada; and ASTER by Japan. Several hundred scientists from the U.S. and abroad have been preparing to take full advantage of EOS AM-1 observations to address key scientific issues and their environmental policy impacts.

EOS is managed by Goddard for NASA's Mission to Planet Earth strategic enterprise, Washington, DC.

NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

August 21, 1997


The design process for the second and third generation of NASA's planned Earth Observing System satellites will be structured to make key decisions as late as possible in order to take best advantage of the latest science and most advanced technology available, according to a comprehensive review of the agency's Mission to Planet Earth enterprise.

The recently completed review also provided important guidance on how to phase in the deployment of the Earth Observing System (EOS) ground data system, and validated the basic plan for the first EOS atmospheric chemistry mission.

The recommendations stem from the first Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) Biennial Review, conducted internally and then assessed by an independent external panel in response to a NASA commitment to perform such a top-to-bottom review of the enterprise every two years.

"We were impressed with the amount of enthusiasm, effort and hard thinking that went into the internal process," said Dr. Pamela Matson of the University of California at Berkeley, chair of the MTPE independent external review panel. "We believe the outcome will be an improved ability for the program to take advantage of new scientific insights, technological advances and partnering opportunities."

The goal of the EOS program is to support the maturing discipline of Earth system science by providing precise, comprehensive measurements of Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere and ice cover. Originally organized around three series of identical, large space-based platforms designed to address a wide range of scientific objectives, EOS has been evolving toward smaller, more evolutionary satellites tied to 24 specific measurements.

The results of the biennial review consolidate this evolution into a philosophy of flexible mission designs that will grow from progress in the five major MTPE science themes: land-cover and land-use change, seasonal climate variability, long-term climate change, atmospheric ozone, and natural hazards such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

"This is a major shift in the conduct of this enterprise," said William Townsend, acting associate administrator for the Mission to Planet Earth. "We are committed to meeting the measurement needs of our five science themes in the future through a combination of commercial off-the-shelf spacecraft and aggressive science instrument technology development. This will enable us to delay each post-2002 satellite procurement substantially, which allows us to learn more from ongoing missions and cut the time each mission stays in the development phase to three years or less."

In the footsteps of a February 1996 recommendation from the NASA Advisory Council to consider fundamental changes in the EOS Data and Information System (EOSDIS), the Biennial Review process also produced a plan to phase in higher-level processing of measurements from the first EOS spacecraft, called AM-1, following its scheduled June 1998 launch.

Such processing, which adds extra parameters to the basic calibrated data, would be done on a selected 25 percent of the data to start and ramp up to 100 percent over the next three years. Decisions on which data sets to process will be made by a resources board composed of EOS users, chaired by the project scientist, in close coordination with the EOS science teams.

"We strongly support the need for a targeted reduction in processing requirements," Matson said. "If done well, it will almost surely not negatively affect the science program, and will result in substantial savings that can be utilized in components of EOSDIS or the science program that turns the data into scientific understanding."

The EOS project office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, and its industrial partner Hughes Information Technology Co., Landover, MD, will conduct an important readiness demonstration of the initial EOSDIS Core System in late August. The demonstration will show critical system functions for acquiring, archiving, processing, and distributing test data from two instruments on the AM-1 spacecraft, and for archiving and distributing data from the upcoming Landsat-7 mission.

For nearly a year, NASA has researched multi-spacecraft alternatives to the plan to purchase the first EOS Chemistry satellite (Chem-1) from TRW Space and Technology Group, Redondo Beach, CA, as part of a pair with the second EOS spacecraft, called PM-1. Due for launch in December 2002, Chem-1 carries four science instruments designed to study the transport and transformation of key atmospheric chemicals and particulates.

The NASA Advisory Council and the Biennial Review panel also agreed on the need for the MTPE enterprise to focus more effort on infusing new technology into the EOS missions to follow Chem-1. "There appears to be a commitment among MTPE managers to technology development based on science needs," Matson said. "We strongly support that requirement."

"There will be no technology development in the Mission To Planet Earth enterprise unless it is directly related to our science needs, which in many ways reverses our old way of doing business," Townsend said.

In its more general findings, the external Biennial Review panel expressed support for the principal investigator-driven approach to new small spacecraft missions under the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder program, and it recommended an increase in MTPE research and analysis funding.

"With the Biennial Review completed and its results being incorporated into the program, this program is well positioned for the future," Townsend said. "We're looking forward to a very exciting 12 months of launches and data collection opportunities, including the start of operations for the SEAWIFS ocean color sensor and pending launches of the Lewis spacecraft, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the first missions of the EOS era," Townsend said.

A summary of the MTPE Biennial Review results and the full letter report of the independent external review panel are available on the Internet.

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